"One of the things that's really magical about VR is you can get the feeling you're really in a place", said Zuckerberg as his avatar floated above the scenes of abject devastation below.
By which, he means Facebook has turned on Safety Check, to let users "check-in" to Puerto Rico and indicate they're alive, and "Community Help" so that locals can post on Facebook if they need food, shelter or urgent medical attention.
Mark Zuckerberg in outer space. "But it's also important so that when relief workers go down there, they can coordinate with each other and know where people need help".
But the video is also cringeworthy: Zuck stops in front of an image of a flooded street and observes "this street is completely flooded", prompting Rubin to say "It's insane to feel like you are here". In the virtual reality livestream, they were animated figures.
The company intends to help the flood-hit country via NetHope and the American Red Cross.More news: Twitter Bars Candidate's Ad Over 'Baby Body Parts' Line
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What should have been an informational Facebook Live session about the social media site's social VR tool Spaces ended up being a tone deaf display that some are calling disaster tourism.
"We use artificial intelligence to build what we call "population maps" so you can look at satellite imagery of an area and get a sense of where it is that people actually live and the density of different places and where there's infrastrucutre going to in those places", said Zuckerberg.
The Facebook CEO noted that Internet connectivity is crucial for people caught in the middle of such situations so that they can convey messages with their loved ones.
Facebook's CEO discussed his company's efforts to aid relief through donations and sharing data with Red Cross. When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, it took out the island's entire electric grid, cutting both communications and access to drinking water.
The Verge's Jacob Kastrenakes described it as a "rather odd demo of a social platform that doesn't have a clear use yet", adding that Zuckerberg as a cartoon avatar "clearly isn't an ideal way to discuss hurricane relief efforts".