The Power of Technology Companies in Shaping XR News Discourse

According to Evans (2019), the re-emergence of virtual reality (VR) began in 2015. A few years earlier, in 2012, multiple large technology companies (such as Google, Samsung and Sony) announced new extended reality (XR) products that would be released in subsequent months/years. In particular, 2016 was a key year for the industry as multiple dedicated VR headsets were released (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR). Understanding the media representation of XR during the initial years of its re-emergence is important since this coverage can have a significant impact the public’s perceptions and expectations of XR, as well as their likelihood of adoption.

Book cover for Covering Extended Reality Technologies in the Media

My recent book, Covering Extended Reality Technologies in the Media, examines this media coverage by analysing the news and marketing discourse surrounding XR from 2012 to 2017. A key finding that emerged from this study was that the companies creating XR products played an instrumental role in the news framing of XR. This article will discuss how this manifested and its implications.

Technology Companies as News Sources

From a sample of 977 online news articles published by the Sun, Guardian and MailOnline, 70% included quotes or paraphrased statements from the creators of XR hardware and software. Similarly, 31% of all multimedia content (such as images and videos) were attributed to these sources – more than any other source type. This allows these groups, who are invested in the success of XR, to have substantial power over defining the technology.

Even more significantly, six articles in the sample were authored by creators of XR applications as guest writers. Although this is a small portion of the total articles, combining this with the major use of these voices as news sources highlights the key role that they have played in constructing the news discourse about XR during its re-emergence. As news coverage can shape readers’ perceptions, XR companies are given the chance to influence public opinion of these products in a way that suits them.

Marketing vs News Discourse

Another aspect of the study involved identifying frames in both the news and marketing of XR, which provides further insight into the impact of technology companies on news discourse. In the news articles, 12 individual frames were identified. Eight of these frames also appeared in the marketing of XR products, while the remaining four frames positively evaluated XR as important, successful, affordable and highly anticipated (for a detailed analysis of all frames, see Graves, 2024).

This is further indication that XR companies have had a significant impact on the news discourse. As marketing aims to promote products and make sales, the appearance of the same frames in the news suggests that these articles support the promotion of XR. In turn, this supports the commercial interests of XR companies, which should not be the focus of news coverage.

Mark Zuckerberg

Two individuals played key roles in constructing the frames in the media coverage of XR. For VR, it was Facebook/Meta owner Mark Zuckerberg, while Apple’s Tim Cook was a key advocate for AR. Quotes from Zuckerberg supported the construction of a number of different frames. For example, Zuckerberg’s press release statement that “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate” (Facebook, 2014) appeared in 21 different articles in the sample. It was first used in 2014 after Facebook/Meta acquired Oculus and continued to be used until early 2016. These words emphasise the potential of VR to transform or revolutionise many different aspects of the way we live. Additionally, there is a clear focus on the technology being social, aligning with the wider goals of Facebook/Meta.

“The frequent use of Zuckerberg as a source, even repeating the same statements multiple times, provides him with considerable power to shape the perceptions of VR.”

Another quote from Zuckerberg highlighted VR’s range of capabilities, as well as its ease of use: “Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home” (Kiss, 2014). Again, this statement appeared in 19 different news articles, spanning 2014 to 2016, re-emphasising Zuckerberg’s message.

Zuckerberg’s words were also used to present VR as high-quality by comparing the real technology to the very advanced representations of VR in fiction: “In just a few years, VR has gone from being this science fiction dream to an awesome reality” (Day, 2015). Finally, the importance of VR was highlighted in Zuckerberg’s statement that “we believe that VR is going to be the next big computing platform” (Reuters, 2016). Linking this technology to the entire “computing” sector, rather than only XR, implies that it is a highly important development. The frequent use of Zuckerberg as a source, even repeating the same statements multiple times, provides him with considerable power to shape the perceptions of VR.

Tim Cook

Along the same lines, Tim Cook was a strong advocate for AR. Similar to Zuckerberg highlighting multiple uses of VR, Cook was quoted stating: “I’m incredibly excited by AR because I can see uses for it everywhere. […] I can see it in every business that I know anything about” (Best, 2017). Cook’s excitement also works to present the technology as highly anticipated or to generate hype.

In another article, Cook’s words framed AR as transcendent by arguing that it could improve lives in various ways: “I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives” (Liberatore, 2017). Lastly, Cook’s words presented AR as an important development that will become integral to everyday life when he claimed that people will “have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day” (Prigg, 2017).

Considering Apple’s involvement with AR through smartphone filters and their more recently announced XR headset Vision Pro, it is not surprising that Cook would want to portray the technology in this way. Still, just as with Zuckerberg, Cook has been given the power to positively define AR and, thus, impact readers’ perceptions in a way that benefits XR companies. Still, Cook’s quotes were rarely repeated in multiple articles, showing that Zuckerberg has been the most prominent source in the news framing of XR.

Final Thoughts

The news media play a key role in helping readers make sense of new technological developments and to learn about their capabilities, affordances, drawbacks and risks. However, if the companies that are invested in the success of such technologies have a significant impact on the news discourse surrounding them, this limits the scope for critical coverage that would be of benefit to general readers. Instead, as my book argues in more depth (Graves, 2024), such news prioritises the commercial interests of XR companies, rather than the readers of these publications.

Since 2017, there have been frequent bouts of news discourse claiming “the death of VR” or “the death of the metaverse”, interspersed with hype about the next new XR releases (as discussed by other recent CAVRN articles; Evans, 2023; Foxman, 2023). It does seem that news coverage of XR may be becoming more critical, particularly in relation to Zuckerberg and the metaverse. However, further research is needed to examine the role of technology companies in shaping news discourse after the initial surge of releases in 2016.


Best, S. (2017) ‘Apple’s Tim Cook predicts augmented reality will be bigger than VR because it doesn’t isolate people in their own worlds’, MailOnline, 12 October. Available at:

Day, E. (2015) ‘Virtual reality? Not for me. Then I turn into Wonder Woman and fly over New York’, the Guardian, 11 October. Available at:

Evans, L. (2019) The Re-Emergence of Virtual Reality. Oxon: Routledge.

Evans, L. (2023) ‘The Death of the Metaverse?’, Critical Augmented and Virtual Reality Researchers Network (CAVRN). Available at:

Facebook (2014) ‘Facebook to Acquire Oculus’, 25 March [Press Release]. Available at:

Foxman, M. (2023) ‘Avoiding the (Virtual) Hype: How Journalists Can Deal with VR’s Promotional Media Ecosystem’, Critical Augmented and Virtual Reality Researchers Network (CAVRN). Available at:

Graves, E.K. (2024) Covering Extended Reality Technologies in the Media. Oxon: Routledge.

Kiss, J. (2014) ‘Oculus: Facebook buys virtual reality gaming firm for $2bn’, the Guardian, 25 March. Available at:

Liberatore, S. (2017) ‘Will the iPhone 8 use a radical augmented reality technology? Claims Apple has 1,000 engineers working on system’, MailOnline, 28 February. Available at:

Prigg, M. (2017) ‘Apple’s 2019 iPhone ‘to have rear facing laser 3D camera’ to make augmented reality even more realistic’, MailOnline, 15 November. Available at:

Reuters (2016) ‘Searching for real growth, U.S. companies turn to virtual reality’, MailOnline, 17 May. Available at:

Recommended citation

Graves, Emma Kaylee. (January, 2024) The Power of Technology Companies in Shaping XR News Discourse. Critical Augmented and Virtual Reality Researchers Network (CAVRN). link

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.