Facebook Inc. (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg came under fire Tuesday, Oct. 10, after he promoted the company's virtual reality product Facebook Spaces by touring hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
Zuckerberg and Facebook's head of social VR, Rachel Franklin, "toured" Puerto Rico as three-dimensional cartoon versions of themselves from the company's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters through virtual reality, Fortune reported.
The demonstration, which was live streamed, was meant to highlight Facebook's upcoming Oculus Rift developer conference later this week and to discuss the company's humanitarian efforts.
Puerto Rico was hit by Category 4 Hurricane Maria in September, leaving the island's 3.4 million people to suffer widespread power outages, severely damaged infrastructure and bad flooding. Those who watched the live demonstration took to social media to criticize what many considered a PR stunt.
For what it's worth "A cartoon Mark Zuckerberg toured hurricane-struck Puerto Rico in virtual reality" is a headline worthy of The Onion.— LibrarianShipwreck (@libshipwreck) October 10, 2017
Zuckerberg also made some comments during the live stream that raised eyebrows. "One of the things that's really magical about VR is that you can get the feeling you're really in that place," Zuckerberg said. "It really feels like we're in Puerto Rico, and it's obviously a tough place to get to right now."
Facebook has donated $1.5 million to relief efforts in Puerto Rico. It also sent a "connectivity team" to the island to aid in emergency connectivity after Maria struck down most communications.
Facebook stock moved lower 0.75% to $171.20 in late-afternoon trading Tuesday.
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