Tuesday, 24 October, 2017

Zuckerberg's virtual tour of devastated Puerto Rico strikes an awkward tone

Mark Zuckerberg Talks About Hurricanes and Puerto Rico in Virtual Reality Virtual Zuck fails to connect
Cecilia Poole | 11 October, 2017, 00:24

A cartoon version of Mark Zuckerberg visited Puerto Rico through virtual reality on Monday to talk about Facebook's hurricane relief efforts. Because that could actually be helpful?

According to The Verge, Zuckerberg used Facebook Spaces to get his big stupid face into hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico, and straight back out of it as soon as he was finished telling the audience - because he live streamed this - about all the good things Facebook is doing in terms of aid and making facile comments like: "It feels like we're really here in Puerto Rico".

After mentioning the Oculus event atop Facebook's office, Zuckerberg and Franklin transported themselves into a recent NPR-produced 360-video that showed widespread damage caused by Hurricane Maria in September.

Mark Zuckerberg, a walking, talking, keyboard tapping big blue jean-wearing social gaffe waiting to happen is at it again.

"That's going to help the Red Cross figure out where people are who need help", he said.

While cars inched by on flooded bridges and men huddled drinking bottled water, Zuckerberg and Rubin floated eerily in front of them, smiling and untouched by the misery surrounding them.

But the video is also cringeworthy: Zuck stops in front of an image of a flooded street and observes "this street is completely flooded", prompting Rubin to say "It's insane to feel like you are here". Facebook Spaces - Facebook's new virtual reality platform - was showcased a year ago at the Oculus Connect Conference. Moreover, they also announced the creation of population maps using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Despite the value of 'safety check, ' it only works if people are connected to the internet.

Alison Main of Mashable said "Zuckerberg sending his cartoon avatar to the ravaged streets of Puerto Rico" was a "tone-deaf misstep", and that "he capitalized on a natural disaster to promote his company's new tech".

Zuckerberg also noted that Facebook had already donated more than $1 million to relief efforts.

The Verge's Jacob Kastrenakes described it as a "rather unusual demo of a social platform that doesn't have a clear use yet", adding that Zuckerberg as a cartoon avatar "clearly isn't an ideal way to discuss hurricane relief efforts".

"We've tried to do this a couple of times in the past but this is an example of how you can use AI and machine learning to help out in savings people's lives and help out in relief efforts", Zuckerberg said.

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