"META" Change Of Name On Facebook | Many More Meta To Go

The group behind the social network Facebook wants to devote itself to the development of a metaverse and is changing its name. The move comes at a turbulent time.

The Facebook group is now called Meta. The new name replaces the former Facebook Inc., the parent company of the social network of the same name, which also includes Instagram and WhatsApp. The social network itself will keep its name, so it will continue to be called Facebook. The company from Silicon Valley is taking a similar step as Google, which launched a new parent company called Alphabet in 2015, under which Google is only one, albeit the most important, subsidiary.

The name change, which was previously speculated, was announced by founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday evening German time. The announcement took place as part of Facebook Connect, a virtual event dedicated to the company's developments in the field of virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR). Or, as both Facebook and other companies now call it: in the area of   the metaverse , the metaverse.

"The Metaverse will be the successor to today's mobile Internet, a kind of embodied Internet," said Zuckerberg during the keynote. In the coming years, the metaverse is supposed to complement and in some cases even replace various areas of everyday experience, from games to education. Zuckerberg demonstrated how people should meet for concerts, for work or at digital workstations in virtual reality. With the Oculus data glasses and the Horizons virtual platform, Facebook has been involved in the development of such applications for a long time. In the future, one wants to subordinate the entire corporate philosophy to the development of the Metaverse, said Zuckerberg.

"Today we are seen as a social media company, but at the core we are a company that connects people," said the founder. The re-branding should help to shift the focus from the Facebook platform to the larger efforts of the group. The name will not change the corporate structure itself, but the way in which the finances are disclosed, it says in the press release . From the fourth quarter of this year, there will be two operational divisions: Apps and Reality Labs. From December 1st there will also be a new stock exchange abbreviation: MVRS.

Facebook is under criticism

The name change comes at a critical time for the group. Facebook is under pressure like it has not been since the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. For weeks, the media have been publishing internal documents under the name Facebook Papers , including those from the former employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen. You describe a company that knows exactly what power it has - and at the same time has no qualms about using this power for financial interests.

The revelations show, among other things, how Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram manipulate young users, how Zuckerberg repeatedly interferes personally in the moderation of certain content, how the German maverick scene was used as an experiment for moderation practices and how prominent users without consequences against guidelines can be violated because they have a special status.

But the documents also show a company whose culture has apparently eroded over the years. Dissatisfied and disaffected employees leave Facebook, the remaining critical voices do not feel heard. In internal reports, they express concern about Facebook's influence on extremist uprisings, protests against racism and the increasing disinformation surrounding elections and the corona pandemic.

Zuckerberg did not comment on the current allegations during his presentation. The change of name seems all the more like an attempt to distract from the current situation. Comparisons to the tobacco company Philip Morris, which renamed itself Altria in 2001, are obvious. Among other things, to get rid of negative associations associated with the tobacco industry, as those responsible openly admitted at the time .

With Facebook, too, it could be a desired side effect if the criticism focuses solely on the social network in the future and not on the other subsidiaries and areas of the company such as Oculus or Horizons. In other words: a new holding company with a different name creates distance from Facebook, the social network, at least on the business side. Because in fact it is unlikely, as the example of Google and Alphabet has shown, that people will speak of problems with Meta in the future when it comes to Facebook again. Although both would of course be correct.

That could please the investors as well as help with the recruitment of new employees who do not want to work directly for the network. And the group may already be preparing for the next political regulation debate, which has already started due to the revelations in the US and is likely to cause further hearings in the coming weeks and months.

In the general public, however, the decision should seem like an act of desperation, which underlines once again that Facebook is unable - or unwilling - to take responsibility for its own actions, to show insight and humility and the grievances within the company to fix. Instead of looking for solutions to the problems in the here and now, they prefer to talk about the future and all the great things that Facebook, forgiveness, meta, will one day bring people. And even if the name change was planned over months, the impression ultimately remains: There could hardly have been a more inopportune time.

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