Virtual reality has the potential to transport people without them having to physically move an inch. Facebook, among other companies, is also putting a lot of resources in fine-tuning the technology for consumers, and one of the products arising out of the feat is the VR app called Spaces. The tool essentially allows Oculus users to experience virtual environments with their friends using digital avatars. But, little did Mark Zuckerberg know that the using the tool to brag about the company’s social initiatives would invite negative attention. Also Read - Facebook gives voice to emojis with Soundmoji: Here's how to sendAlso Read - Netflix could launch its video game streaming service next year, at no extra cost
Earlier this week, Zuckerberg used Spaces to virtually teleport himself and his colleague Rachel to the disaster-hit regions of Puerto Rico. However, given the very nature of the live, where Zuckerberg and Rachel appeared in a cartoon avatar, talking about how it feels like they are actually in the middle of the flooded regions, it did not go down well with a lot of people. Also Read - You can now use WhatsApp web without your phone
In the live video, Zuckerberg is giving a 360-degree virtual tour of Puerto Rico’s destruction, not as himself, but through a cartoon. While he intended to talk about Facebook’s partnership with NetHope and American Red Cross to restore connectivity and rebuild communities, the video invited criticism. Zuckerberg’s avatar goes on talk about how by using artificial intelligence, Facebook is able to help reach out to those who are affected.
While a lot of users appreciated the potential of the tool, some users were quick to point, “Did he just really break out into a “this is cool” while peoples houses are flooded behind him. Is Facebook leader that blind and emotionally turned off? Mr. Zuckerberg SMH”. ALSO READ: Facebook CEO apologizes for dividing people on his platform
Realizing the intended purpose of the video wasn’t what eventually got translated, Zuckerberg apologized on the video with a comment saying, “One of the most powerful features of VR is empathy. My goal here was to show how VR can raise awareness and help us see what’s happening in different parts of the world. I also wanted to share the news of our partnership with the Red Cross to help with the recovery. Reading some of the comments, I realize this wasn’t clear, and I’m sorry to anyone this offended.”
He went on to explain how the VR experiences does not extend to others who are watching you as a virtual character, “When you re in VR yourself, the surroundings feel quite real. But that sense of empathy doesn t extend well to people watching you as a virtual character on a 2D screen. That s something we ll need to work on over time,” Zuckerberg said in another comment he left. ALSO READ: Obama warned Zuckerberg about fake news on Facebook last year
Earlier this month, Zuckerberg apologized for hurting people on Yom Kippur, which is considered to be the holiest day of the year for Jews. In a post written after Yom Kippur, Zuckerberg said, “We reflect on the past year and ask forgiveness for our mistakes. For those I hurt this year, I ask forgiveness and I will try to be better. For the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask forgiveness and I will work to do better. May we all be better in the year ahead, and may you all be inscribed in the book of life.”