Last week the Internet went crazy when Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the company’s major rebrand at the Facebook Connect augmented and virtual reality conference.
The new name, ‘Meta’ is a reflection of the company’s foray into a world ‘beyond’ social media. “Today we are seen as a social media company, but in our DNA we are a company that builds technology to connect people, and the metaverse is the next frontier just like social networking was when we got started,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
It’s important to note that Facebook’s parent company’s name has changed and NOT its various apps (Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp etc). The Facebook family of apps still retain their earlier names.
It’s nothing new for tech companies to change their name. In 2015, Google changed its parent company’s holding to Alphabet as it wanted to be known for being more than a search engine. In 2016 Snapchat rebranded to Snap Inc.
Facebook’s change in name is seen as a strategic crisis-shifting move by many.
The world’s biggest network social media platform came under intense scrutiny recently when whistleblower Frances Haugen shared internal documents, especially on how Instagram has become a toxic place for teenage girls.
The birth of Meta
Facebook has been working on its virtual and augmented reality products for a bit. Be it Oculus or the recent photo-taking sunglasses collaboration with Ray-Ban, Facebook has been trying to create a dent in the virtual and augmented reality space. According to Zuckerberg, “ The metaverse will feel like a hybrid of today’s online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world. It will let you share immersive experiences with other people even when you can’t be together — and do things together you couldn’t do in the physical world. It’s the next evolution in a long line of social technologies, and it’s ushering in a new chapter for our company.”
Recently Facebook has been heavily promoting the idea of metaverse. However, the concept of metaverse is not widely understood. Borrowed from Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi novel Snow Crash, it’s difficult to explain the dystopian concept of reality in a virtual-life. Since metaverse doesn’t exist it gets even tougher to explain. But then so must have been the concept of the Internet when it was just that! Facebook, the heaviest investor in metaverse tech describes it as, “The ‘metaverse’ is a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.”
Facebook gets meta with Meta
From criticism to funny memes – with all the hype the rename has garnered the company has briefly shifted attention to the new name. With all the controversies, scrutiny, congressional hearings, whistleblowers is a mere name-change enough for Facebook?
It’s time the company broadened its vision and just not horizon. As the world’s biggest social media platform its time Facebook, Meta or Mark Zuckerberg Inc., took responsibility. It should use its clout to reinvent social media rather than just a rebrand.
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