Zuckerberg's virtual tour of devastated Puerto Rico strikes an awkward tone

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CNBC reporter Arjun Kharpal noted several Twitter users' disgust of the spectacle in an article titled "Critics blast Facebook's Zuckerberg for 'magical' virtual reality tour of Puerto Rico devastation".

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg apologised on Tuesday for offending some users, after he posted a video on Monday demonstrating Facebook features against the backdrop of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

The demo then awkwardly segued away from Puerto Rico and back to the presentation floor in California.

The rules of virtual reality are still being established, but here's an easy one: Don't use human disasters as a way to show off features of your VR product.

While most of us want to use the Oculus Rift to meet up with friends in a different setting without leaving home, take selfies in 3D, or explore Facebook Spaces to experience a virtual world, Facebook's founder wanted to check out the damage left behind by the recent series of hurricanes to hit Puerto Rico. The company was highlighting a partnership with NetHope and American Red Cross "to restore connectivity and rebuild communities", which is certainly a worthy cause.

It's not really clear the point of this platform, except that it's sort of like Google Hangouts, Skype, or any other video-chat program, except that instead of seeing who you're talking to, you see their cartoon avatar.

Facebook has done some admirable charity work in Puerto Rico, and the video is, viewed in a generous light, in just very poor taste.

At the time, the social network's CEO Mark Zuckerberg brushed away concerns and famously said it was "a pretty crazy idea". Then there's the weird Justin Timberlake-ish cheese curls that are supposed to represent Zuckerberg's hair.

Actually, it is too difficult to constitute the experiences through VR to a third party, and whatever Zuckerberg was seeing was all NPR's harrowing video.

Later in the video, the pair toured the surface of the moon using the virtual reality app. However, if the campaign doesn't lead with the news item, like a company's response to a natural disaster, the company appears to exploit tragic circumstances for financial gain.

It marked the Facebook founder's second public apology in less than two weeks.

Alexander J Perez complained on Facebook: 'Ok?

Sony, however, said in June that it had sold over one million PlayStation VR headsets since they debuted in October.

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