Facebook is rebranding itself as Meta, a new umbrella business that will encompass the the company’s apps and technologies.
The crisis-hit company announced the new name during the keynote at its annual Connect conference, which was largely focused on new announcements for the Oculus VR platform, including the Project Cambria mixed reality headset concept.
Facebook, Oculus, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp will henceforth collectively be known as Meta, which the company says will “bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses.”
The company spent a lot of the annual Connect conference talking about its metaverse concept, which it says will be a blend of everything it’s currently doing, embracing emerging technologies and realities for the purposes of socialising, collaborating, learning and sharing.
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In a blog post announcing the name change today, it says: “The metaverse will feel like a hybrid of today’s online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world.
“It will let you share immersive experiences with other people even when you can’t be together — and do things together you couldn’t do in the physical world. It’s the next evolution in a long line of social technologies, and it’s ushering in a new chapter for our company.”
In a “Founders Letter” announcing the name change from Mark Zuckerberg – suggesting he really does see this as an entirely new beginning at a time of high crises – the current CEO says you won’t need a Facebook account to use its “metaverse” services over time.
The under-fire executive said: “Our mission remains the same — it’s still about bringing people together. Our apps and their brands aren’t changing either. We’re still the company that designs technology around people.
“But all of our products, including our apps, now share a new vision: to help bring the metaverse to life. And now we have a name that reflects the breadth of what we do.
“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.”
Facebook is currently under incredible pressure after a whistleblower revealed a trove of internal documents, which she says outlines how the company’s practices placed “profits over people”.
Documents released by Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, also outline the company’s alleged failings in preventing the spread misinformation and clamping down on the content promoting the “stop the steal” march, which eventually led to the January 6 insurrection in the United States.
Changing the name to Meta comes at an opportune time and could prevent the company’s other apps and services – three of which were acquired, not built by Zuckerberg’s hand – from being tarred with that brush.