Home / News & Analysis / Zuckerberg Apologizes for Tone-Deaf Puerto Rico VR Tour

Zuckerberg Apologizes for Tone-Deaf Puerto Rico VR Tour

Mark Zuckerberg's latest attempt to promote virtual reality through Facebook isn't sitting well with everyone, and for that he's sorry.

On Tuesday, the Facebook CEO issued an apology for a controversial virtual reality tour he gave of the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico that was streamed live on the social media site the day before.

The tour, which showed a cartoon-like avatar of Zuckerberg visiting flooded areas of the island, was meant to demonstrate how virtual reality can raise public awareness about the crisis there. However, some internet users accused Zuckerberg of exploiting the disaster to market the company's technology.

"This isn't helping the other people. This is just showing off!!! Not cool!!!" wrote one Facebook user.

In response, Zuckerberg took to the comment section of his official Facebook page, which hosts the video of the VR tour. "My goal here was to show how VR can raise awareness and help us see what's happening in different parts of the world," he wrote. "Reading some of the comments, I realize this wasn't clear, and I'm sorry to anyone this offended."

The virtual tour was done over Facebook Spaces, which lets users interact with each other in 3D-environments. A beta version is already available, but users must own the company's Oculus Rift product.

Although the Oculus Rift is best known as a virtual reality gaming headset, Facebook has been trying to expand its use outside of entertainment purposes. However, Zuckerberg's virtual reality of hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico—which at times showed his cartoon avatar appearing to smile—may have not been the best test case.

Nevertheless, Zuckerberg wrote on Tuesday that one of the most powerful features of VR is "empathy."


"When you're in VR yourself, the surroundings feel quite real," he wrote. "But that sense of empathy doesn't extend well to people watching you as a virtual character on a 2D screen."

During the virtual tour, Zuckerberg also announced his company was helping the American Red Cross to direct aid efforts in Puerto Rico by using artificial intelligence. Others in Siicon Valley, like Tesla founder Elon Musk and Alphabet's Project Loon, are also trying to help the island recover through new technologies.

On Wednesday, Facebook will also be holding its annual Oculus Connect conference in San Jose, California to announce new developments around its virtual reality projects. PCMag will be there, so stay tuned for coverage.

Read more

Check Also

Facebook mistakenly leaked developer analytics reports to testers

Set the “days without a Facebook’s privacy problem” counter to zero. This week, an alarmed developer contacted TechCrunch, informing us that their Facebook App Analytics weekly summary email had been delivered to someone outside their company. It contains sensitive business information including weekly average users, page views, and new users. 43 hours after we contacted Facebook about the issue, the social network now confirms to TechCrunch that 3 percent of apps using Facebook Analytics had their weekly summary reports sent to their app’s testers, instead of only the app’s developers, admins, and analysts. Testers are often people outside of a developer’s company. If the leaked info got to an app’s competitors, it could provide them an advantage. At least they weren’t allowed to click through to view more extensive historical analytics data on Facebook’s site. Facebook tells us it has fixed the problem and no personally identifiable information or contact info was improperly disclosed. It plans to notify all impacted developers about the leak today and has already begun. Below you can find the email the company is sending: Subject line: We recently resolved an error with your weekly summary email We wanted to let you know about a recent error where a summary e-mail from Facebook Analytics about your app was sent to testers of your app ‘[APP NAME WILL BE DYNAMICALLY INSERTED HERE]’. As you know, we send weekly summary emails to keep you up to date with some of your top-level metrics — these emails go to people you’ve identified as Admins, Analysts and Developers. You can also add Testers to your account, people designated by you to help test your apps when they’re in development. We mistakenly sent the last weekly email summary to your Testers, in addition to the usual group of Admins, Analysts and Developers who get updates. Testers were only able to see the high-level summary information in the email, and were not able to access any other account information; if they clicked “View Dashboard” they did not have access to any of your Facebook Analytics information. We apologize for the error and have made updates to prevent this from happening again. One affected developer told TechCrunch “Not sure why it would ever be appropriate to send business metrics to an app user. When I created my app (in beta) I added dozens of people as testers as it only meant they could login to the app…not access info!” They’re still waiting for the disclosure from Facebook. Facebook wouldn’t disclose a ballpark number of apps impacted by the error. Last year it announced 1 million apps, sites, and bots were on Facebook Analytics. However, this issue only affected apps, and only 3% of them. The mistake comes just weeks after a bug caused 14 million users’ Facebook status update composers to change their default privacy setting to public. And Facebook has had problems with misdelivering business information before. In 2014, Facebook accidentally sent advertisers receipts for other business’ ad campaigns, causing significant confusion. The company has also misreported metrics about Page reach and more on several occasions. Though user data didn’t leak and today’s issue isn’t as severe as others Facebook has dealt with, developers still consider their business metrics to be private, making this a breach of that privacy. While Facebook has been working diligently to patch app platform privacy holes since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, removing access to many APIs and strengthening human reviews of apps, issues like today’s make it hard to believe Facebook has a proper handle on the data of its 2 billion users.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer: Trading in bitcoins or other digital currencies carries a high level of risk and can result in the total loss of the invested capital. theonlinetech.org does not provide investment advice, but only reflects its own opinion. Please ensure that if you trade or invest in bitcoins or other digital currencies (for example, investing in cloud mining services) you fully understand the risks involved! Please also note that some external links are affiliate links.