After much anticipation and backlash, Facebook renamed itself Meta in the face of critics. They believe it represents the company’s focus on creating the metaverse, a virtual world where one could work, learn, play, and connect with family and friends. Meta would overlook Facebook and its services, including photo app Instagram, messaging app WhatsApp, and virtual and augmented reality endeavors as the new parent company.
During Facebook Connect, the company’s annual VR and AR conference, Zuckerberg said
“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,” He believes that “it symbolizes that there is always more to build” as the word “Meta” comes from Greek translating to beyond.
Facebook showed a little sneak peek of the metaverse where avatars are playing chess, standing in a virtual concert, working, and learning remotely. Zuckerberg believes that these virtual experiences will enter the mainstream in the next five to ten years. He aims to gain a billion users in the next decade. The highly rumored rebranding highlights how Facebook, created in 2004, has expanded far beyond social networking. Facebook owns Oculus VR, invented the Portal video chat devices, and partnered with Ray-Ban to create their first pair of smart glasses in 2012. It is one of the most high-profile rebrandings of a Tech company since the creation of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Creating a new parent company won’t magically solve all of Facebook’s problems. For years, Facebook has faced terrible criticism due to its constant failure to safeguard privacy, fight hate speech, and eradicate the spread of misinformation. Even currently, the social media company is faced with more serious allegations of putting profits over user safety after Facebook’s product manager turned whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked confidential research to the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress. The Wall Street Journal and other US and international news organizations then published stories based on some papers.
After Facebook renamed itself Meta, it proclaimed its internal research was being mischaracterized to create a “false picture” of the company. The social company says more than 40,000 people work on safety and security, and the company is on track to spend more than $5 billion on these issues this year.