On Thursday, Facebook rebranded its parent company “Meta,” as the internet behemoth attempts to transition from its scandal-plagued social network to its virtual reality vision for the future.
The company’s new identity comes as it fights to survive one of its greatest crises yet and pivot to its plans for the “metaverse,” which would blur the barriers between the physical and digital worlds.
Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, which are used by billions of people across the world, will keep their identities under the rebranding, which opponents have characterised as an attempt to divert attention away from the platform’s problems.
“We’ve learned a lot from struggling with social issues and living under closed platforms, and now it is time to take everything that we’ve learned and help build the next chapter,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during an annual developers conference.
“I am proud to announce that starting today, our company is now Meta. Our mission remains the same, still about bringing people together, our apps and their brands, they’re not changing,” he added.
Critics of the corporation seized on the rebranding, with The Real Facebook Oversight Board claiming that the network is undermining democracy by promoting misinformation and hatred.
“Their meaningless name change should not distract from the investigation, regulation and real, independent oversight needed to hold Facebook accountable,” the group said in a statement.
Since former employee Frances Haugen disclosed reams of internal analyses revealing executives were aware of their services’ potential for harm, triggering a fresh US drive for regulation, the social media behemoth has been confronting one of its most serious crises.
Those records have been utilised by a group of US news outlets to produce a slew of devastating stories, including one accusing Zuckerberg of caving in to state censorship and another detailing how the site has fueled rage in the interest of keeping users engaged.
In a filing, Facebook stated that “it became subject to government inquiries and requests” in September as a result of the material leaked to lawmakers and regulators.
According to AFP, the corporation issued a “legal hold” to staff on Tuesday, which is an order to preserve papers and conversations because it is being investigated by authorities.
A Washington Post report last month suggested that Facebook’s interest in a metaverse virtual world is “part of a broader push to rehabilitate the company’s reputation with policymakers and reposition Facebook to shape the regulation of next-wave internet technologies.”
However, Zuckerberg stated that the vision represents the future in a more than one-hour broadcasted address that showed him exploring virtual reality realms.
“Within the next decade, Metaverse will reach a billion people, post hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and support jobs for millions of creators and developers,” he said.
The company noted during Zuckerberg’s presentation “a dozen major technological breakthroughs to get to the next generation metaverse.”
Facebook recently announced plans to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to help construct the “metaverse,” with Zuckerberg emerging as a proponent of the concept.
The metaverse is, in fact, science fiction: Neal Stephenson originated the phrase in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash,” in which characters wear virtual reality headsets to participate in a game-like digital world.
Although Facebook has faced severe challenges in the past, the current look behind the curtain of the closed firm has sparked a frenzy of critical reports and scrutiny from US regulators.
“Good faith criticism helps us get better, but my view is that what we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company,” Zuckerberg said in an earnings call on Monday.
Despite other operations such as Waymo self-driving cars and Verily life sciences, Google rebranded itself as Alphabet in 2015, and the internet search and ad powerhouse remains its defining unit.
You might also like:
What is this Facebook’s metaverse we’ve been hearing about
Windows 11 SE is currently in development
Microsoft is reported to be working on a low-cost Surface laptop