All posts in “Mark Zuckerberg”

Why I’m forcing all my friends to buy the Oculus Go

Image: bob al-greene/mashable

Oculus, Samsung, Google, Sony, Valve, and everyone else who makes virtual reality devices have a problem: VR isn’t selling

From a gamer’s perspective, it’s pretty obvious why. Devices like Oculus Rift and Playstation VR are innovative, shiny, new, and probably the way of the future or whatever, but as a gamer, I really only care about one thing: playing good games.

And even though it feels kind of nifty to wear VR headset at first, the novelty wears off fast, and you’re ultimately stuck with a messy system of wires and chargers and other accessories that just aren’t worth the effort of setting up. Plus, there seems to be, among most VR games, an emphasis on novelty of platform over quality of gameplay. 

Take, for example, the trailer for Oculus Studios’ Lone Echo. The company describes the game as a “zero-gravity multiplayer experience,” but gives us little to no sense of the gameplay in the trailer. One of my friends commented that, “It seems like all I actually do is move around,” which is essentially true of most VR games. There’s very little story development or, more commonly, no real sense of why you should be invested in the characters. VR games don’t draw you in quite like a console games. Developers just aren’t producing the same type of epic sagas like Middle-Earth: Shadow of War or The Witcher 3 that are available on traditional gaming consoles.

And even among the gamers who do care about VR, who is going to be buying the Oculus Go? While it’s a new addition to the Oculus lineup, it promises to do the exact same thing Gear VR and Google Daydream View already do, but for $100 more. Plus, without being tethered to a PC, it probably won’t be anywhere near as powerful as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

But if there’s one thing this week’s Oculus Connect conference showed us, it’s that the company has something that its competitors never can: the world’s largest social network as its parent company. Facebook Spaces will take us on vivid virtual adventures our friends across the country. Oculus Venues will take us to live concerts from the comfort of our living rooms. And the made-for-VR artwork that Mark Zuckerberg showed us onstage is truly mind-blowing to experience. The majority of consumers aren’t gamers looking for top-of-the-line graphics and thousands of hours of captivating gameplay. Most of us are looking for a cool experience. 

The Oculus conference showed us that we’re really, really close to living in a world where proximity is no longer a barrier to intimate interaction, and where everything we experience, from movies and television to sports and games, is experienced to an elevated and infinitely customizable degree. 

There’s a major shift coming to virtual reality, and it’s not a shift in gaming as you might expect. Instead, it’s a wave of social media, art, and entertainment. And it’s going to get really interesting when our friends start joining the fray. The Oculus Go probably won’t be the best gaming console in the world, but I’m definitely going to buy it and make all my friends get one, too. The promise of social interaction is virtual reality is just way too exciting to pass up.

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2017%2f8%2fa84af374 7167 242d%2fthumb%2f00001

South Park slams Facebook for selling fake news


“I make money from Facebook for my fake content in order to pay Facebook to promote my fake stories” said…Professor Chaos in one of the most brutal and succinct criticisms of the social network to date. The latest episode of South Park pulled no punches in its take down of the Facebook fake news scandal. It poses Mark Zuckerberg as an indecipherable bully protecting fake news spreaders for profit and says kids can’t recognize lies on the app, while blaming everyone for allowing Facebook so deep into our lives.

Meanwhile the episodes pokes fun at Netflix for greenlighting low-quality original series, and riffs on the horrible abuse of women by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

South Park’s intense, episode-long focus on Facebook’s fake news problems underlines the severity of the mainstream backlash. The blunt characterization of Facebook and Zuckerberg, and the direct harm fake news has on show’s protagonists could force the company to see its actions and explanations through the lens of the public.

“Children lack the cognitive ability to determine what’s true”

Spoilers ahead. If you care, you should probably just watch the 22-minute episode, which was both funny and jaw-dropping in how aggressively it attacks Zuckerberg in particular.

The plot is essentially that the school boys of South Park have formed a super hero team and are trying to sell an original TV series based on their adventures to Netflix. But their nemesis Professor Chaos ruins their reputation and Netflix deal by publishing fake news on Facebook saying the heroes do disgusting things, and then promotes those stories with Facebook ads.

“Look fellas, you have a right to be on Facebook, and I have a right to be on Facebook, and sometimes that’s gonna cause a little…chaos” says the villain.

The line seems to reference or at least align with Zuckerberg’s statement about Donald Trump accusing Facebook of being “anti-Trump”. Zuckerberg responded that “Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”

Professor Chaos goes on to build a profitable fake news and ads farm. The parents of South Park start seeing the fake news, and believe the kids are performing unspeakable sex acts on innocent victims.

But one parent stands up and says [Warning: Graphic Language] “We all know there’s been a lot of mixing of truth and fiction on Facebook lately, and children lack the cognitive ability to determine what’s true and what isn’t on Facebook. That’s now why we have kids dressing up in costumes, eating poop, and having sex with antelopes in our town.”

The kids are actually acting pretty normal and can spot the lies, but the parents are the ones unwittingly buying into it.

“You all brought Mark Zuckerberg into your lives”

The parents invite Zuckerberg to town for questioning. But when one says “Facebook has become a tool for some to disrupt our country and our community”, Zuckerberg laughs off the critique, saying “You say these things as if they are my fault, and yet they are not.”

When another responds “Well you did create a platform with a monetary incentive for people to spread misinformation”, Zuck tells the town it cannot block his fighting style, and waves his arms while making sound effects like old kung fu movie villain. This seems to be a dig on both Facebook’s unrelenting expansion into every area of life, and Zuckerberg’s at-times opaque public speaking style.

The heroes confront Professor Chaos and Zuckerberg, and say to the CEO, “This kid is deliberately lying about us on your platform for no other reason then to cause harm. Why are you protecting him?” “Simple, he paid me $17.23” Zuckerberg responds. It’s clear that many see Facebook’s policy of allowing fake news because of free speech as an excuse for greed.

In reality, Facebook’s execs have so much money they probably don’t care much about earning more. My seven years of reporting on and interviewing the company lead me to believe it earnestly believes in free speech despite the ugly side effects, and this scandal has been driven by its idealistic leadership’s naivety about the worst of humanity rather than greed.

Every South Park episode, while laced with profanity and absurdity, resolves with a moral turn. In this case, the townspeople demand police shoot Zuckerberg, or at least kick him out of town. But the police chief asks “Who invited Mark Zuckerberg to town in the first place?”, and the public glumly admits “we did”. “You all should have thought harder about this before letting him into your lives” the chief chides the town, and everyone watching South Park.

In the end, the kids gang-stomp Zuckerberg until he fights back, but catch just the second half of the fight on Facebook Live, in turn ruining his reputation despite his protests that it’s all untrue. With a touch of his smartphone, the defeated Zuckerberg neutralizes the fake news peddlers, with the show poking the real him for not using his power to more drastic action. The kids get their Netflix show, and Professor Chaos’ Dad berates Vladimir Putin for setting a bad example.

The lessons are clear. South Park highlights how Facebook is profiting off fake news which the company needs to avoid, even if it means making things harder for innocent advertisers. As for the public, we must accept some of the blame for Facebook’s influence because we allowed ourselves to become so addicted to its content and to treat it like a verified news source.

Now the question is, did Zuck think it was funny?

Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for that awkward VR tour of Puerto Rico

Mark Zuckerberg has apologized, in a Facebook comment, for his recent virtual reality tour of Puerto Rico

The Facebook CEO used the VR session to discuss Facebook’s relief efforts for Puerto Rico, which is recovering from Hurricane Maria, but his smiling avatar superimposed over the island’s ravaged streets did not sit well with everyone. 

“It seems it would be way more effective if we could see your real faces. It is so distracting to have virtual characters reporting on a real disaster,” one commenter said on Facebook. 

A few hours later, Zuckerberg responded to that comment. 

“I hear that. When you’re in VR yourself, the surroundings feel quite real. But that sense of empathy doesn’t extend well to people watching you as a virtual character on a 2D screen. That’s something we’ll need to work on over time.”

Image: screenshot/facebook

And in another reply on Facebook, Zuckerberg said he was sorry for offending anyone with the video. 

“One of the most powerful features of VR is empathy. 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,” he wrote. 

Image: screenshot/facebook

That’s one of the problems of virtual reality — being inside and looking at it from the outside are two vastly different experiences, and despite’s Facebook’s efforts in the space, VR is still far from commonplace. There’s no reason to assume Zuckerberg didn’t mean well, and Facebook’s efforts to help Puerto Rico are commendable. But cartoonish VR was not the right platform to raise awareness of Puerto Rico’s plight. 

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2017%2f10%2f7a998d10 f41a afb5%2fthumb%2f00001

Mark Zuckerberg took his VR avatar to Puerto Rico, and it was just so awkward

Image: MARK ZUCKERBERG/FACEBOOK

For all the good Facebook has done in the wake of Hurricane Maria, CEO Mark Zuckerberg sending his cartoon avatar to the ravaged streets of Puerto Rico on Monday afternoon stands out as a tone-deaf misstep. He capitalized on a natural disaster to promote his company’s new tech, and the whole thing just felt … awkward. 

Zuck sent his curly-haired, smiling avatar on a virtual journey to the suffering territory with Rachel Rubin Franklin, the leader of Facebook’s social reality team, courtesy of a 360-degree video created by NPR. 

Zuckerberg and Franklin’s cartoon avatars floated along observing floods and destruction as Zuckerberg waxed poetic about the “magical” quality of virtual reality. 

They even shared an awkward high five in front of flooded homes while laughing about how they were using the Facebook Spaces tech from different locales.

Twitter and some viewers commenting on the Live video on Facebook were quick to ask an important question…WTF? 

Image: FACEBOOK

The juxtaposition of Zuckerberg’s avatar bobbing around hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico was indeed weird, but seeing him try to transition to the next stop on his virtual tour was even more cringeworthy. 

After an awkward exchange about how the duo felt like they were really in Puerto Rico, filled with uncomfortable pauses and Zuck grabbing the virtual camera to show viewers the “completely flooded” street, the Facebook founder asks his coworker if she wants to “teleport” somewhere else.

“Maybe back to California?” Franklin said with a nervous laugh, and soon the two were on their way to San Jose to stand on stage at last year’s Oculus Connect 3 VR conference. 

Despite this bizarre virtual trip to Puerto Rico, Facebook has carried out important disaster relief to help the devastated island. About 15% of residents are still without power and only about 19% of the territory’s cellphone towers are working, according to a government website tracking outages, even three weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall.

Facebook has donated $1.5 million for Puerto Rico relief through World Food Program and Net Hope. The company has also sent employees to help with Puerto Rico’s connectivity issues and has partnered with the Red Cross to use an artificial intelligence program to build population maps, in order to locate communities in need of assistance. 

Perhaps Zuck’s intention with this Facebook Live was to bring a spotlight to Puerto Rico, but plopping VR cartoons into a disaster zone and peppering the conversation with nervous laughter just feels ignorant. 

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2017%2f10%2f0e1216e5 84ec 690e%2fthumb%2f00001

Zuckerberg’s non-statement on Trump and fake news is a total cop out

Not enough.
Not enough.

Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued a statement Wednesday addressing President Donald Trump, fake news, and his company’s controversial role in the 2016 presidential election. And, perhaps unsurprisingly coming from a man whose idea of connecting with reality is a carefully managed 50-state photo op, his words were polished to the point of meaninglessness. 

Zuck was responding to a rambling presidential tweet that both maligned the social network-turned-advertising company and insisted it’s “anti-Trump.” Possibly sensing an opportunity to garner some public goodwill, the best dressed man in Silicon Valley assured his 96 million followers that, nah, he’s doing his very best to be fair and balanced. And that he’s trying. Like, really hard. 

“Every day I work to bring people together and build a community for everyone,” he wrote while clearly channeling a high school vice principal struggling to understand why his students have turned against him. “We hope to give all people a voice and create a platform for all ideas.”

That some of those people just happened to find employment in a Russian government-linked “troll farm” that, according to his own chief security officer, “appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum”? Well, shucks. Mark sure is sorry.

And he’s doubly sorry that he hadn’t taken the issue of intentionally spread misinformation affecting the 2016 election seriously before now.  

“After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea,” continued Zuckerberg. “Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it. This is too important an issue to be dismissive.”

Finally, the Boy King of Tech admits fault. But, lest you think this is the start of a new, self-reflective Mark, he quickly walked back that regret.  

“But the data we have has always shown that our broader impact — from giving people a voice to enabling candidates to communicate directly to helping millions of people vote — played a far bigger role in this election.”

So there you have it. Zuckerberg is sorry that following the 2016 presidential election he was publicly dismissive of so-called fake news, but doesn’t seem all that remorseful for profiting off that very thing. What’s more, according to the Wise One, Facebook did more to benefit the electoral process than harm it. So, you know, you should be thankful for the role Facebook played in our civic discourse. 

It’s a total cop out non-statement, and delivered in a style that Zuckerberg has clearly perfected. Good thing, too, as he’s going to need those verbal bullshit skills come 2020. While Zuck is busy patting himself on the back for finally admitting a reality heretofore obvious to everyone but him, it’s the rest of us that are left holding the bag.

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f81870%2f5c1ef71e 707d 46e8 8649 b3118c202301