Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was forced to apologize in the comments of his own post on Tuesday after a demo showing off the company’s new virtual reality app Spaces drew criticism.
Zuckerberg and Rachel Franklin, head of social VR for the social media giant, starred as avatars in their own tour of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico on Monday. The aim was to showcase how 3-D characters can communicate with one another in a VR space using an Oculus Rift headset.
The two started on “the roof” of a Facebook building before ending up in a 360-degree video shot by NPR. At one point Zuckerberg said, “You can get a sense of some of the damage that the hurricanes have done” before saying, “One of the things that’s really magical about virtual reality is you can get the feeling that you’re really in a place.”
With a flooded street in the background, the Zuckerberg and Franklin avatars even high-fived one another.
Criticism was sharp on social media, and Zuckerberg responded Tuesday morning.
“One of the most powerful features of VR is empathy,” Zuckerberg wrote. “My goal here was to show how VR can raise awareness and help us see what’s happening in different parts of the world. I also wanted to share the news of our partnership with the Red Cross to help with the recovery. Reading some of the comments, I realize this wasn’t clear, and I’m sorry to anyone this offended.”