It's official. The social networking parent company behind Facebook has changed its name after 17 years.
Facebook's corporate entity now Meta.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, announced the change at the AR/VR-focused Connect conference. He shared that the new title captured more the core company ambition to build the metaverse.
Meta is our company, and it reflects who we are as well as what we want to build. Our mission is still the same, it's about bringing people together. Zuckerberg stated that our apps and brands aren't changing. We will be metaverse-first from now on, not Facebook-first.
Facebook's name change is timely as it has been facing a backlash, especially in recent weeks, after an employee leaked a series of documents to media and government agencies detailing the mistakes Facebook made in developing its platform responsibly over the years. Facebook had been working on this name change for months. It was apparently in an effort move away from the constant negative headlines about its most popular product which have been a source of anger among users.
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, announced in July that the company was placing all its bets on the metaverse. The surprise announcement was surprising for the trillion-dollar corporation, as Facebook's virtual reality hardware investments have been costly. However, its social VR products are largely short-lived and Facebook had not spoken about beta Horizons since its announcement more than a decade earlier.
Facebook held an unusually large press campaign in August to promote a VR app that allows people to take virtual meetings. Zuckerberg attended morning shows and spent a surprising amount time promoting the tiny VR app.
In September, Facebook posted a blog called Building the Metaverse Responsibly. It announced a $50m fund to invest in research and development. Additionally, it detailed plans to hire 10,000 EU employees to help build their metaverse platform.
The Verge reported last week that Facebook was considering changing their corporate name.
The company's core business must be separated from the product with the most problems. However, changing the name of Meta to Facebook will require them to align their core brand with a product that may be years away from relevance and could face many failures along the way to mainstream success. Facebook still has 2.5 Billion users. Their metaverse products have only a few thousand.
It is not uncommon for one of the tech's largest companies to change its name. Google created Alphabet in 2015 with a new corporate structure. Google is still a subsidiary to Alphabet. However, most people refer to anything that has to do with the company and its subsidiaries as Google. Facebook is likely to receive the same treatment after nearly two decades of growing its brand and bringing its products to over three billion monthly users.
Although Google was not trying to distance itself from its brand, Facebook has different reasons for a new branding. While the company's business is still booming, its brand has suffered from major privacy violations like the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2016 and the Russian election disinformation in 2016. Now, Facebook is facing a flurry of revelations from Frances Haugen (a former member of Facebook's civic integrity team who became a whistleblower).
Facebook is under greater regulatory scrutiny than any other tech company at the moment. In Congress, where legislators rarely agree on anything, Republicans as well as Democrats have come together to express their disapproval at the company's unfettered growth and cutthroat business practices, and concern about Instagram's negative effects on teens' mental health.
Each social media company was asked to clearly contrast its business practices with Facebook during a Senate hearing with TikTok and Snap last week. YouTube claimed that its profits were not prioritized over safety, while Snap argued that Snap's focus is on short-term conversations. TikTok said that it cares about teens and their well-being. However, the efforts of Facebook's peers were in vain.
Senator Richard Blumenthal stated that being different from Facebook was not a defense. This is the bottom of the barrel.