Facebook changes company name to Meta

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook has grown in importance over the past two decades with one of the most recognizable brands in the world: a big ...


SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook has grown in importance over the past two decades with one of the most recognizable brands in the world: a big blue and white letter F.

Not anymore. On Thursday, the social media giant took an unmistakable step towards an overhaul, reducing the importance of the Facebook name and renaming itself Meta. The change was accompanied by a new company logo designed as a slightly crooked infinity symbol. Facebook and its other apps, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, will remain under the Meta umbrella.

The move punctuates how Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive, plans to refocus his Silicon Valley business on what he sees as the next digital frontier, which is the unification of disparate digital worlds into something called the metaverse. At the same time, renaming Facebook can help steer the business away from the social media controversies it faces, including how it is used to. spread hate speech and disinformation.

“I’ve given a lot of thought to who we are” with this new chapter, Zuckerberg said, speaking at a virtual event Thursday to showcase Facebook’s tech bets on the future. “Over time, I hope we will be seen as a metaverse business. “

With the change, Zuckerberg telegraphed that his business is going beyond today’s social media, which Facebook has built on since its inception 17 years ago. Having Facebook as a business name when the company now had lots of apps and basically aimed to connect people was no longer tenable, he said.

This was especially the case, Zuckerberg said, as Facebook pledged to create a composite universe of online, virtual and augmented worlds that people can seamlessly walk through. He said this concept, known as the metaverse, may be the next major social platform and that several tech companies will be building it over the next 10+ years. On Monday, Facebook had signaled its intention to be a major player by splitting its virtual reality and augmented reality business into a division known as Facebook reality labs.

But turning Facebook into a metaverse business will take time because the concept is moot and can take years to realize. Facebook and its sister apps also remain a giant corporation, generating more than $ 86 billion in annual revenue and serving more than 3.5 billion people globally.

The timing of the name change has a double advantage. Facebook has been grappling with some of the the most intense examination in its history in recent weeks. Lawmakers and the public have criticized its Instagram photo-sharing app for damaging the self-esteem of some teens and the company has faced questions about its role in amplifying misinformation and agitation with inflammatory content.

The outcry came to a head after Francoise Haugen, a former Facebook employee, disclosed internal documents that showed how well the company was aware of the damaging effects it was causing. The findings in Ms Haugen’s documents were first published by the Wall Street Journal and then by other outlets, including the New York Times.

The revelations led to a plethora of congressional hearings, as well as legal and regulatory scrutiny. Monday, Mrs Haugen talked to UK lawmakers in Parliament and urged them to regulate Facebook. Tuesday, Facebook told its employees to “preserve internal documents and communications since 2016” that relate to its activities because governments and legislative bodies had opened investigations into its operations.

Corporate branding changes are rare but have a precedent. They have typically been used to signal the structural reorganization of a business or to steer a business away from a toxic reputation.

In 2015, Google has restructured under a new parent company, Alphabet, dividing into separate companies to better differentiate its internet research activity from the moon betting it was doing in other areas. In 2011, Netflix announced plans to divide your video activity into two parts, briefly renaming his DVD-by-mail arm to Qwikster.

After The edge reported last week that Facebook could change its name, social media has erupted with less desirable comparisons. Some have recalled how Philip Morris, the tobacco giant, renamed itself Altria Group in 2001 after years of degrading its reputation. on health costs and the effects of cigarettes on the American public.

Nicholas Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global policy and communications, dismissed the comparisons, calling them “extremely misleading.”

Much of the change in Facebook’s name is cosmetic. It will start trading under the ticker symbol MVRS from December 1. The company will also rename some of its virtual reality products to Meta, moving away from the original Oculus brand name.

The company has not been restructured and no management changes have been announced. Mr. Zuckerberg also remains Managing Director and Chairman. He holds the majority of votes on any change that may affect the future of the company.

“No matter what Mark Zuckerberg calls it, it will remain Zuckerberg Inc. until it relinquishes some power and cedes to functional corporate governance,” said Jennifer Grygiel, associate professor and social media researcher. at Syracuse University.

For months, Facebook prepared for the announcement of the metaverse. Last year he released his new virtual reality headsets, the Oculus Quest 2. In August, he unveiled a virtual reality service called Horizon work rooms, a virtual meeting room where people using virtual reality headsets can come together as if they were at an in-person business meeting. And in September he announced a new line of glasses with Ray-Ban, which can record videos.

These products are all pieces of the metaverse, which Mr. Zuckerberg acknowledged on Thursday sounded like “science fiction.”

Andrew Bosworth, chief technology officer of Facebook, also said that the Metaverse would need significant technological breakthroughs and that the company was working on new versions of virtual reality and augmented reality hardware to make them smaller, cheaper and more immersive.

Even so, Zuckerberg spoke on Thursday of the idea of ​​”the successor to mobile Internet” and said mobile devices would no longer be the focal points. The building blocks for the Metaverse were also already available, he said. During a demonstration, he showed a digital avatar of himself that was transported to different digital worlds while talking to his friends and family no matter where they are on the planet.

“You’re going to really feel like you’re there with other people,” he said. “You are not going to be locked into a world or a platform.”

Mr Zuckerberg said creating the metaverse will require work at different tech companies, new forms of governance and other things that don’t come in the short term. But he outlined several areas where the metaverse would be applicable, citing video games, fitness, and work.

Mr. Zuckerberg introduced Horizon Workrooms, a virtual conference room product, where colleagues can work together remotely on different projects that they might have done previously in the office. He talked about several immersive video games. And he demonstrated Horizon Worlds, a virtual reality-based social network where friends and family could meet and interact.

Success will depend in part on attracting other people to create new apps and programs that work in the metaverse. As with the mobile app economy, users are more likely to join new computing ecosystems if they have programs and software to use.

As a result, Zuckerberg said he will continue to offer free or low-cost services to developers and invest to attract more developers through creator funds and other capital injections. Among other things, Facebook has earmarked $ 150 million for developers who create new types of immersive learning apps and programs.

“We are fully committed to it,” he said. “This is the next chapter in our work.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Facebook changes company name to Meta
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