Mark Zuckerberg made a surprise visit to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico on Monday — sort of.
The Facebook CEO led a video tour through Puerto Rico's flooded streets in a video broadcast on Facebook Live, in an attempt to promote the company's new virtual reality feature. Things quickly turned awkward, however, as Zuckerberg stumbled through a conversation with Facebook VR team member Rachel Franklin, calling Puerto Rico — still fighting to recover three weeks after Hurricane Maria — a "tough place to get to" and spending a few minutes touting Facebook's own relief efforts.
Comments on Zuckerberg's Facebook Live video called out his perceived insensitivity, saying the clip was everything from "tone-deaf" to "the height of tastelessness." On Tuesday, Zuckerberg responded to a comment, saying his goal was to "show how VR can raise awareness and help us see what's happening in different parts of the world." He added that "one of the most powerful features of VR is empathy." "I realize this wasn't clear, and I'm sorry to anyone this offended," he wrote.
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In another comment, he acknowledged that the "sense of empathy" he was attempting to convey "doesn't extend well to people watching you as a virtual character on a 2D screen."
In the video, Zuckerberg and Franklin spent a few minutes high-fiving in front of footage of destroyed homes in Puerto Rico before teleporting back to sunny California — and then to the moon. If only Puerto Ricans could be so lucky. You can watch the whole clip below. Kathryn Krawczyk
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