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Mark Zuckerberg apologises for 'heartless' VR video on Puerto Rico hurricane disaster

Mark Zuckerberg apologises for 'heartless' VR video on Puerto Rico hurricane disaster

As a taster for a big announcement about Oculus VR on Wednesday, send Mark Zuckerberg on a little virtual reality trip, including a stop in Puerto Rico.

Along with Facebook's head of social VR, Rachel Franklin, Zuckerberg's avatar was imposed over a 360-degree video from NPR that showed the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

"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 said in a comment on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

Zuckerberg has a history of "eating his own dog food" as the Silicon Valley term goes, using new Facebook products and his own celebrity to boost the signal for fledgling products.

"You know, it feels like we're really here in Puerto Rico, where it's obviously a tough place to get into now, and a lot of people are really suffering with the aftermath of the hurricanes". "I mean, one of the things that's really magical about virtual reality is that you can get the feeling that you're really in a place ..." Then there's the weird Justin Timberlake-ish cheese curls that are supposed to represent Zuckerberg's hair.

Zuckerberg's reaction to the disaster stands in contrast to that of another high-profile tech innovator, Elon Musk.

Yes, Facebook's $1.5m donation to the Red Cross is commendable - then again, Jennifer Lopez gave $1m, and she hasn't had a hit song since 2014.

"Facebook is very focused on trying to help out in the recovery effort", he repeats.

Two weeks ago, Zuckerberg expressed "regret" for initially being "dismissive" about the role misinformation on Facebook may have played in the presidential election.

That's what Mark Zuckerberg learned the hard way after a virtual reality "tour" landed the CEO in hot water.

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. The video doubled as a demo of the Facebook Spaces app and as a platform to announce the company's initiative with the Red Cross during natural disasters.

"Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC and commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR", he added. People make mistakes and Facebook will misstep again as it continues to pioneer new technology.