After weeks of speculation, Facebook’s new name has finally been announced yesterday by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a live-streamed virtual and augmented reality conference.
The tech giant has rebranded its parent company to Meta as part of its efforts to move past being a scandal-plagued social media network to its virtual reality vision for the future.
The new name applies only to the parent company – Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, its three biggest social networks used by billions around the world, will retain their name, sparking debates that the rebranding is merely a distraction from the platform’s dysfunction.
“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,” Zuckerberg said during the annual developers conference.
What is the Meta and the ‘Metaverse’
When news of a potential rebranding first leaked, many company critics accused it of pulling a cheap publicity stunt to distract the public from many damning accusations of harming democracy and spreading disinformation and hate. They include blames of Zuckerberg bending state censors and the site of stoking public anger to keep users engaged.
However, Zuckerberg revealed, in an over an hour-long streamed message, that the motivation behind the name change lies in Facebook’s interest in a metaverse virtual world, hence the name Meta. It 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”.
“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 adds.
“A dozen major technological breakthroughs” were noted during his presentation to get to this next generation metaverse. The company has plans to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to build this metaverse, with Zuckerberg standing as the leading promoter of the concept.
The Metaverse is a common concept in science fiction. First coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, it explores the a virtual reality alternate universe where people don virtual reality headsets to interact inside a game-like digital world.
“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.