To shed a poisonous history and construct a metaverse, Facebook has gone Meta

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Synopsis: The name change was part of Facebook’s gamble on a new digital frontier called the metaverse, where friends and family may interact with each other no matter where they were on the earth, according to the company, which has been chastised for spreading disinformation and other difficulties.

New York: Over the last two decades, Facebook has been synonymous with some of the most recognisable branding in the world: a large blue-and-white letter F.

That is no longer the case. On Thursday, the social networking behemoth made a clear move toward a makeover, renaming itself as Meta and de-emphasizing Facebook’s name. The update was followed by a new company logo that was fashioned in the shape of an infinity symbol that was slightly off-kilter. Facebook’s other programmes, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, will continue to exist, but under the Meta banner.

The move underscores how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg intends to refocus his Silicon Valley firm on what he sees as the next digital frontier: the integration of diverse digital realms into a metaverse. At the same time, changing Facebook might help the corporation separate itself from the numerous social networking concerns it is dealing with, such as how it is being used to disseminate hate speech and disinformation.

Zuckerberg stated on Thursday at a virtual event showcasing Facebook’s future technology ambitions that with this next chapter, he’d been thinking a lot about the corporation’s identity. He’d like to think of them as a metaverse corporation in the future.

With the adjustment, Zuckerberg signalled that his firm will go beyond today’s social networking, which has been the foundation of Facebook since its inception 17 years ago. He said that having Facebook as the company name was no longer viable because the firm now owned several applications and was primarily about connecting people.

This was especially true, according to Zuckerberg, because Facebook has committed to creating a composite universe that combines online, virtual, and augmented worlds for users to navigate smoothly. He believes that the metaverse, as he refers to it, will be the next big social platform, with multiple tech companies working on it over the next ten years. Facebook divided its virtual reality and augmented reality businesses into a subsidiary dubbed Facebook Reality Labs on Monday, signalling its aim to be a major participant.

However, because the notion is theoretical, it will take time for Facebook to evolve into a metaverse firm. Facebook and its sibling applications are still huge businesses, producing over $86 billion in yearly sales and servicing over 3.5 billion people across the world.

The timing of the name change is advantageous in two ways. In recent weeks, Facebook has been under some of the most severe scrutiny it has ever faced. Lawmakers and the public have chastised the firm’s Instagram photo-sharing app for allegedly harming the self-esteem of certain youngsters, and the corporation has been questioned for its role in spreading misinformation and inflaming racial tensions with incendiary content.

After Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, revealed confidential papers revealing how much the business knew about the negative consequences of its actions, the outrage reached a fever pitch. The Wall Street Journal was the first to publish findings from Haugen’s records, followed by other news organisations such as The New York Times.

A spate of congressional hearings, as well as legal and regulatory investigations, have resulted from the allegations. Haugen addressed British legislators in Parliament on Monday, urging them to regulate Facebook. Because governments and legislative bodies have begun probes into Facebook’s activities, Facebook ordered its staff on Tuesday to preserve internal documents and communications from 2016 that are relevant to its companies.

Corporate rebranding is uncommon, but it has happened before. They’ve mostly been employed to indicate a firm’s structural reorganisation or to separate a corporation from a negative reputation.

Google reorganised itself under a new parent company, Alphabet, in 2015, separating itself into distinct organisations to better distinguish its internet search business from its moonshot ambitions in other fields. Netflix revealed intentions to split its video company into two halves in 2011, rebranding its DVD-by-mail subsidiary Qwikster for a while.

Following last week’s storey by The Verge that Facebook could alter its name, social media was flooded with less flattering analogies. Some recalled how Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco company, changed its name to Altria Group in 2001 following years of bad press about the health costs and impacts of cigarettes on the American population.

The similarities, according to Nicholas Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global policy and communications, are “extremely misleading”.

The change in Facebook’s name is mostly cosmetic. On December 1, it will begin trading under the ticker MVRS. In addition, several of the company’s virtual reality devices will be rebranded as Meta, a departure from the original brand name of Oculus.

There were no executive changes disclosed, and the corporation was not reformed. Zuckerberg is still the company’s CEO and chairman. He has a majority vote on any changes that might have an influence on the company’s future.

Jennifer Grygiel, an associate professor and social media scholar at Syracuse University confirmed that regardless of what Mark Zuckerberg named it, it would be Zuckerberg Inc. until he relinquished some control and bows to effective corporate governance.

Facebook has been building up to the metaverse revelation for months. Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headsets were introduced last year. In August, it debuted Horizon Workrooms, a virtual conference space where users with VR headsets may congregate as if they were at an in-person work meeting. In September, it unveiled a new range of video-recording eyewear with Ray-Ban.

All of these items are parts of the metaverse, which Zuckerberg said on Thursday sounded like “science fiction”. Besides, Facebook’s chief technology officer, Andrew Bosworth has stated that the metaverse would require substantial technological advancements and that the firm is working on new kinds of virtual reality and augmented reality gear that are smaller, less costly, and more immersive.

Nonetheless, Zuckerberg promoted the concept as “the successor of the mobile internet” on Thursday, claiming that mobile devices will no longer be the focus centres. He also stated that the metavers’s building components were already accessible. In a demonstration, he demonstrated a digital avatar of himself that travelled to other digital realms while conversing with friends and family from anywhere on the earth. He promised that users would truly feel like you’re there with other people, and they wouldn’t be confined to a single planet or platform.

Zuckerberg stated that developing the metaverse would need collaboration among many technological businesses, new kinds of governance, and other aspects that would not be available in the near future. He did, however, list numerous areas where the metaverse may be useful, including video games, fitness, and job.

Zuckerberg demonstrated Horizon Workrooms, a virtual conference room solution that allows coworkers to collaborate remotely on various tasks that they could have previously completed at the office. He extolled the virtues of various immersive video games. In addition, he introduced Horizon Worlds, a VR-based social network where friends and family may engage.

Success will be determined in part by attracting others to develop new applications and programmes that operate in the metaverse. Users are more inclined to join new computer ecosystems if there are programmes and software for them to utilise, like in the mobile app market.

As a response, Zuckerberg stated that he will continue to provide low-cost or free services to developers while also investing in enticing additional developers through creator funds and other cash infusions. Facebook has set aside $150 million for developers that build new types of immersive learning applications and programmes among other things.

Zuckerberg stated he was absolutely committed to this, and this is the next step in their project!

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