In late October, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s plan to change the name of its parent company to ‘Meta’, in an effort to rebrand and focus on building a ‘metaverse’ – a virtual world that can be accessed by millions of people using avatars. While the company’s key social media platform will remain known as “Facebook”, the mother company of the group will now be called Meta Platforms, Inc.
Mark Zuckerberg announced the executive changes during the company’s annual AR/VR conference, ‘Connect’, where he also mentioned the company’s intent to focus on building an augmented reality platform. Zuckerberg shared a glimpse into the metaverse and commented that he and his team “believe that the metaverse will be the successor of the mobile internet. We’ll be able to feel present – like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are.”
Zuckerberg feels the company needs to distance itself from the name ‘Facebook’, which does not represent all the range of products and services that it offers. Instead, ‘Meta’ will reflect the company’s expansion into what it’s management believe will be a representation of the modern-day internet.
A focus shift
Zuckerberg’s plans were met with criticism; the company was accused of attempting to ‘shift focus’ from the so-called ‘Facebook Papers’, a series of leaked documents that revealed that Facebook secretly tracked and studied deceptive content, including misinformation and hate posts, without removing it.
In October 2021, former Facebook employee, Frances Haugen testified before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and accused the social media giant of failing to make changes to its platforms, even after employees warned that the content displayed was harmful to the public.
“Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy,” Frances Haugen said, “The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people.”
“Congressional action is needed,” Haugen said. “They won’t solve this crisis without your help,” she added. Facebook has denied these allegations.
Rebranding confuses public
The news of Facebook’s rebranding and upcoming plans to expand into a metaverse stunned the world. Right after the announcement, Facebook changed its ticker symbol to MVRS which confused some investors, leading to unrelated companies with similar names seeing a massive uptick in their stock prices.
Meta isn’t the first tech giant to rebrand and attempt to find alternative ventures to focus on – in 2015, Google changed its name to Alphabet Inc. in an effort to, “provide a stronger, more accountable corporate structure to oversee its disparate businesses,” said co-founder Larry Page at the time. Google’s venture was met with failure, leading the company to halt those operations and revert back to its main business.
As the sixth most-valuable company in the world by market capitalization, Meta’s management believes that realizing the company’s vision will transform the world of social media and position the brand in the compelling yet enigmatic world of augmented reality.
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