Welcome to ‘Meta’ – Facebook changes its name

Phone screen with the Facebook logo.
Source: (via Flickr)

By Edward Sutton | Contributor

On Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg announced the company would change its name from Facebook to Meta. This name change is for the parent company “Facebook”. Not the app, which owns many other popular social platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp. 

At the Connect 2021 Conference, Zuckerberg laid the seeds for the company’s new vision: The Metaverse. A “hybrid of today’s online social experiences”. Zuckerberg is talking about Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Zuckerberg believes it is the next social frontier after mobile. In the keynote, examples of this new Metaverse were shown, with Zuckerberg meeting his friends in a virtual space station and playing cards. The concept can be best visualised by thinking about the 2018 film Ready Player One, a virtual playground to interact with your friends. Meta also states that this new universe could expand as working from home becomes a VR experience. 

In the founder’s letter, Zuckerberg stressed the importance of including privacy and security built into the Metaverse from “day one”. He also hoped that this new venture would reach billions of people. Creating a new digital economy and platform for e-commerce. Meta aims to immerse us in our online social experience and go beyond just looking at a screen. Zuckerberg seems committed to this new project, as he states at the end of the letter. While the recent launch of the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses show the company is investing in hardware beyond the mobile.

This rebrand to ‘Meta’ comes at a particularly challenging time for Facebook. As heavy regularity pressure comes worldwide, especially in the UK and USA. The recent testimony of Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, has shared thousands of internal documents about the companies’ inner workings. Speaking to both Parliamentary and Congressional select committees, she accused Facebook of prioritising profits over its impact in the world. 

Meta’s push into new areas across all its products has not been subtle. It has also attracted regulatory concerns. The addition of Reels to Instagram in 2020 being a blatant challenge to the rising dominance of TikTok. While adding Instagram stories in 2016 and 2021 View Once in WhatsApp are all features resembling its competitor Snapchat. This fits into the old Facebook motto of “move fast and break things”, a phrase that has helped them this year to surpass the $1 Trillion market value. 

Meta will hopefully indicate a shift for the company. This may help them break away from the poor image they have garnered over the recent years and towards a new frontier in technology that we are yet to experience. 

Science and Technology

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