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Virtual Zuck’s Visit to Hurricane-Hit Puerto Rico Stirs Storm of Criticism

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An avatar version of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico on Monday, provoking criticism for a tone-deaf product promotion.

The virtual reality livestream was intended to provoke empathy for the victims of Hurricane Maria, but most found it to be an inappropriate occasion to showcase a new product.

"One of the things that's really magical about VR is you can get the feeling you're really in a place," Zuckerberg said as his avatar floated above the scenes of devastation.

While their grinning avatars toured flooded streets, Zuckerberg and Facebook's head of social virtual reality, Rachel Franklin, sat comfortably in their offices in Menlo Park, California.

Critics said the stunt epitomized the gap in understanding between Silicon Valley and the real world.

After their "visit," the pair teleported back to California to promote the new Oculus VR headset, the social VR tool of Facebook's Spaces, which will be released Wednesday.

 

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