Palmer Luckey and the Perils of Social Media

At some point in the last few days, someone has had to have an interesting conversation with Mark Zuckerberg about Palmer Luckey. The 24 year old founder of Oculus has already built himself somewhat of a reputation; anyone who tries to argue with their customers on Reddit is unlikely to come off well,  but recent news coming from The Daily Beast and Motherboard has cast an uglier light on the tech entrepreneur.

According to the reports, Luckey is not only a pro-Trump supporter but also supports Gamergaters. Luckey admitted to donating $10,000 dollars to Nimble America, a group that essentially trolls on behalf of Donald Trump, but claims in a Facebook post it was because “I thought the organisation had fresh ideas on how to communicate with young voters through the use of several billboards.”

Having favourited several tweets from Trump, as well as several mocking SJWs, Luckey’s social media profile is starting to look questionable.

Image and featured image courtesy of eVRydayVR

Image and featured image courtesy of eVRydayVR

Although he doesn’t tweet in support of GamerGate himself, and there is only so much we can read into passively favouriting others’ commentary, the image generated by the opinions he chooses to support isn’t one that we particularly like to see on a man who is one of the leaders of the VR movement.

Luckey is at the forefront of technological innovation and you would hope that he would be reasonably progressive in other areas, particularly given the money invested in him and the mass of attention currently resting on his company.

Virtual reality is not a guaranteed consumer success at this point and given that a fairly significant chunk of consumers interested in the Oculus are also young and progressive, coming out as a far-right supporter of several bigoted movements is unlikely to win much approval for you or your company.

Unsurprisingly, following the news, several VR developers have dropped their support for Oculus.

Image courtesy of Web Summit

Image courtesy of Web Summit

Luckey is now distancing himself from Nimble America, describing himself as a Libertarian who plans to vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate. There has been no comment on the GamerGate affiliation and both Facebook, and Oculus have simply pointed to Luckey’s personal statement when asked for comment.

Palmer Luckey and Oculus are most likely going to come out of this just fine.

However it sets a worrying precedent for a man who really needs to be seen in a positive light if people are going to follow him down the path of VR. And considering Mark Zuckerberg pretty much directly criticised Trump in his F8 keynote earlier this year, it would maybe serve Luckey well to remember who owns his company now, and present a stronger public front.

True sympathy of course lies with whoever had to deliver the – imagined – message below to Zuckerberg:

“Hey Mark, remember how you bashed Trump’s campaign and want to present a progressive front to the world? Remember how you spent $2bn on Oculus? Well, you might want to take a seat for this.”

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