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Facebook changes its name to Meta to reflect its metaverse ambitions

To reflect who we are and the future we hope to build, I’m proud to share that our company is now Meta, says Facebook Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

October 29, 2021 / 09:05 AM IST
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

The most 'liked' thumbs-up is changing to kind of a pretzel or an infinity as Facebook gets into a new identity - Meta.

The rebranding of the social media platform reflects the company’s broader ambitions related to metaverse and away from Facebook, an identity that is closely linked to all its products, said Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s Connect conference on October 28.

“As we embark on this next chapter, I’ve thought a lot about what this means for our company and our identity… Today, we’re seen as a social media company. Facebook is one of the most used technology products in the history of the world. It’s an iconic social media brand,” Zuckerberg said.

However, it no longer represents what the company does, given the family of apps like WhatsApp and Instagram, and also the work the company is doing in virtual and augmented reality. “To reflect who we are and the future we hope to build, I’m proud to share that our company is now Meta,” Zuckerberg announced.

This means that family of apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, and also its Reality Labs that is building the metaverse, will now be owned by Meta.

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This was one of the most awaited events as Facebook was expected to announce the new name for the company, and also lay out its vision for metaverse it is building. This comes at a time when the company has come under scrutiny for the negative impact it has on teens, based on the Wall Street Journal expose.

According to Zuckerberg, while many would question the timing of the metaverse converse amid the recent controversy, he said that he believes in “what we are building and technology can make life better”.

A trove of internal documents leaked by a Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen detailed the social giant's various missteps and struggle in moderating content, especially in multilingual countries like India, its biggest market with over 340 million users.

Meta brand

Facebook, or Meta, as it would be called now, is investing heavily on metaverse. During the earning call this week, the company said that it will invest $10 billion this year on Reality Labs to build the metaverse.

The company will also invest $150 million in skilling up creators in the new ways of using metaverse. “Right now our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything we are doing today, let alone in the future. Over time, I hope we are seen as a metaverse company, and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we’re building towards,” Zuckerberg said.

“From now on, we will be metaverse-first, not Facebook-first. That means that over time you won’t need a Facebook account to use our other services. As our new brand starts showing up in our products, I hope people around the world come to know the Meta brand and the future we stand for,” he said.

To reflect this, the company also announced that it will break out Facebook Reality Labs as a separate reporting segment in its earnings reports from Q4 2021.

How is the company building it?

The idea of metaverse is to make it more immersive where, instead of communicating through the mobile apps, people can feel each other’s presence.

This would mean digital avatars, one each for different occasions, creating your own space, making it easy to teleport from one platform to another, and also building security and safety feature built into the platform. One can get into the metaverse through virtual reality platforms, AR glasses, computer or even phone. The company already has its own virtual reality platform, Horizon, an online gaming tool.

“In the metaverse, you’ll be able to do almost anything you can imagine — get together with friends and family, work, learn, play, shop, create — as well as completely new experiences that don’t really fit how we think about computers or phones today,” Zuckerberg said.

To make the devices more accessible, the company will sell devices at a subsidised cost. While the company will offer lower fee to developers and creators, it will have to keep some fees high to ensure that “they don’t lost too much money” along the way.

“Our hope is that within the next decade, the metaverse will reach a billion people, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and support jobs for millions of creators and developers,” Zuckerberg said.

With the world’s most iconic social media brand changing its name, the acronym for the five biggest American tech companies – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google – changes unceremoniously from FAANG to the even less appetising MAANG. It has drawn countless reactions from ‘likes’ to ‘angry red faces’ on social media.
Swathi Moorthy
first published: Oct 29, 2021 07:29 am

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