Well, that didn't take long. Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for a virtual reality promotion featuring Puerto Rico that was almost unanimously condemned as tone deaf, reports CNET. In a video on Tuesday, Zuckerberg and another Facebook exec demonstrated how the new VR tool called Spaces works, allowing the pair to "visit" areas of Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Maria using video from NPR. "My goal here was to show how VR can raise awareness and help us see what's happening in different parts of the world," Zuckerberg wrote in his apology. "Reading some of the comments, I realize this wasn't clear, and I'm sorry to anyone this offended."
Lots of viewers thought the demonstration came off as callous, almost cartoony. "It is so distracting to have virtual characters reporting on a real disaster," one commenter wrote. As Tech Crunch notes, Zuckerberg replied directly to that one. "I hear that," he wrote. "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." He said Facebook would try to improve on that.