Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has announced the company will change its name to Meta, saying the change reflects the company’s vision of bringing the “metaverse” to life in the future.
The name change does not apply to the social networking app Facebook, which will continue to operate under the same name. But the parent company that owns Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus will now be known as Meta.
The rebrand comes after former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower, Frances Haugen, leaked internal documents that shed light on how the company chose profit over user safety.
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.
Zuckerberg announced the name change at the Facebook Connect conference, Facebook’s annual conference on all things virtual and augmented reality.
“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,” Zuckerberg said at the virtual conference.
“Over time, I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we’re building towards,” he continued.
“From now on, we’re going to be metaverse-first, not Facebook first.”
Over time, I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we’re building towards.
The social networking app Facebook, along with the company’s “family of apps” – Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and its VR system Oculus – will continue to operate under the same names.
Importantly, Zuckerberg confirmed that the company’s corporate structure will remain unchanged, but the company will look at reporting financials as two different segments: one for its family of apps and one for its reality labs.
Zuckerberg also revealed that the company intends to start trading its shares under the new stock ticker it has reserved, MVRS, from December 1, 2021.
From now on, we’re going to be metaverse-first, not Facebook first.
Skeptics say the rebrand is largely “cosmetic” and merely an attempt to shift attention away from the trove of negative news stories surrounding the company.
After several scandal-ridden years, the company is now facing a barrage of news stories after former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower, Frances Haugen, leaked hundreds of internal documents that shed light on the company’s culture.
Among other things, the documents reveal how Facebook ignored or downplayed internal warnings about the harm its algorithms were causing, as well as its policing of health misinformation and hate speech on its platforms.
Zuckerberg has described the reports as a “coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company”.
What we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company.
Nevertheless, Zuckerberg touched on some of these concerns in his announcement.
“With all the scrutiny and public debate, some of you might be wondering why we’re doing this right now,” Zuckerberg said.
“I know that some people will say this isn’t a time to focus on the future. I want to acknowledge that there are important issues to work on in the present. There always will be,” he continued.
“But I also know that there are a lot of you who feel the same way I do. We live for what we’re building, and while we make mistakes, we’ll keep learning and building and moving forward.”
We live for what we’re building, and while we make mistakes, we’ll keep learning and building and moving forward.
So, will the name change give Meta a fresh start? Mike Proulx, research director at market research firm Forrester, isn’t convinced.
“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,” Proulx told The Financial Post.