Facebook has rebranded as Meta, focusing on creating the “metaverse,” a shared virtual environment that the corporation believes will be the replacement to the mobile internet.
The name change comes as the world’s largest social media business under laws and regulations scrutiny over its market dominance, algorithmic choices, and policing of abuses on its platforms.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the new name represented the company’s efforts investing in the metaverse, rather than its namesake social networking site, which would continue to be named Facebook, at a live-streamed virtual and augmented reality conference.
The word “metaverse” was invented three decades ago in the dystopian novel “Snow Crash,” and is now generating attention in Silicon Valley. It refers to the concept of a shared virtual reality that may be accessed via various devices.
Zuckerberg said, “Right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything that we’re doing today, let alone in the future.”
The company, which has made significant investments in augmented and virtual reality, claims that the transition would unite its many apps and technology under one new brand. It stated that its corporate structure would not be altered.
The tech company, which has 2.9 billion monthly users, has been under increased scrutiny from legislators and authorities worldwide in recent years.
In the most recent controversy, former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen disclosed information that indicated the business prioritized profit before user safety. In recent weeks, Haugen has testified before a US Senate panel as well as UK parliamentarians. The records, according to Zuckerberg, are being exploited to construct a “false picture.”
In a blog post, the business stated that it plans to begin trading on December 1 under the new stock ticker it has designated, MVRS. It unveiled a new sign at its Menlo Park, California, headquarters on Thursday, replacing its thumbs-up “Like” logo with a blue infinity shape.
On Thursday, Facebook shares finished 1.5 percent higher at $316.92.
A Controversial Reputation
Facebook said this week that its hardware department, Facebook Reality Labs, which is in charge of AR and VR activities, will become a distinct reporting entity. The company’s investment will cut its total operating profit by nearly $10 billion this year.
This year, the business established a metaverse-focused product team under this unit, and it recently revealed ambitions to hire 10,000 people in Europe over the next five years to work on the project.
In an interview with the Information, Zuckerberg stated that he has not considered stepping down as CEO and has not discussed “really seriously” spinning off this business.
Reality Labs will be the new name for the division, according to its president Andrew “Boz” Bosworth. The business will also cease referring to its virtual reality headsets as “Oculus” instead of “Meta” products.
Initially reported by the Verge, the name change is a massive rebranding for Facebook, but it is not the first. It unveiled a new logo in 2019 to differentiate the company from its social app.
In recent years, the company’s reputation has taken a beating, especially over its user data management and its regulation of abuses, including health misinformation, violent language, and hate speech. Antitrust lawsuits have also been filed by the US Federal Trade Commission, claiming anticompetitive behavior.
Mike Proulx, research director at market research firm Forrester, said, “While it’ll help alleviate confusion by distinguishing Facebook’s parent company from its founding app, a name change doesn’t suddenly erase the systemic issues plaguing the company.”
According to Prashant Malaviya, a marketing professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, the company’s plans to phase out the Facebook name even from products like the video-calling device Portal show the company is eager to avoid the unprecedented scrutiny harming the rest of its apps.
He said, “Without a doubt, (the Facebook name) is definitely damaged and toxic.”
According to Zuckerberg, the new name, which comes from the Greek word for “beyond,” represents that there is always more to develop. On Thursday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey offered a new definition: “referring to itself or the conventions of its genre; self-referential.”
According to Zuckerberg, the new name also symbolizes that customers will no longer need to use Facebook to access the company’s other services in the future.
Google reorganized in 2015 to become Alphabet, a new holding company, as the popular search engine ventured into new industries such as self-driving vehicles, high-speed broadband, and cloud computing. In 2016, Snapchat changed its name to Snap Inc, the same year it released its first pair of smart glasses.
During Connect, Facebook revealed a series of new AR and VR product improvements, including its own set of smart glasses with Ray-Ban. People who use the company’s Oculus VR headset may use Facebook Messenger to call friends.
People connecting as avatars and being transported to digital versions of various locales and historical periods were also shown in video demos by Zuckerberg. The metaverse, he argued, would have to be created with security and privacy in mind.