What you should know about Facebook’s switch to Meta

Is Facebook’s reign coming to an end? No, although what is happening is a transformation within the business empire created by Mark Zuckerberg. We recently learned about the important rebranding carried out by Facebook, which has been renamed Meta. 

Amid a wave of criticism for the publication of tens of thousands of internal documents, the company made the decision to change its corporate name. According to Zuckerberg, the goal of the change is to better encompass what the company does, which is expanding its reach beyond social networks to focus on areas such as virtual reality (VR).

Meta: what does the new name imply? 

Facebook’s goal with its name change to Meta is similar to that of Google when it created Alphabet: to house its products and services in a parent company with a different name than its main service. Google, for its part, wanted to distance the company from its search engine and Facebook wants to do so from its social network.

That being the case, it is worth clarifying that what is changing is the name of the umbrella company that oversees Facebook’s various applications and products. In other words, Facebook as an application and social network will keep its name. However, now this platform, as well as Instagram and WhatsApp, belong to the company Meta. 

Oculus VR, the Facebook-owned company that develops virtual reality technology, will undergo changes with the arrival of Meta. According to Zuckerberg, the Oculus name used for the company’s virtual reality headset and service will change to Meta Quest in early 2022. Likewise, Oculus’ names will change. Oculus Home, for example, will become Horizon Home and Oculus Venues will become Horizon Venues.

Why Meta, what does it mean?

Now that it has become clear what the new name of Facebook’s parent company implies, it is important to talk about the chosen term. Its literal meaning in Greek is “after” or “beyond” and can go some way to explain what Zuckerberg wants to achieve with his business. 

The CEO wants to go beyond social networking and make a strong foray into the virtual reality industry. At the time of making the announcement of the change, Zuckerberg said that the existing brand could not represent everything they are doing now, let alone what they will do in the future, and that is why he needed to change.

The new company name has also served Zuckerberg as a prefix for his next project, which he has dubbed metaverse. This will be a kind of virtual world where people will be able to play, communicate and even work. 

The Facebook CEO’s idea is to create an online world where people connect through virtual reality helmets. The goal is that this space will have interaction elements -not yet developed- to have a sensory experience and achieve a true immersion in this virtual universe.

From Facebook to Meta

Facebook’s rebranding and its relationship with the company’s recent scandals.

Mark Zuckerberg claims that Facebook’s name change is due to an expansion strategy, as it seeks to be seen as a company that goes beyond social networks. However, there are those who believe that the identity change aims to divert attention from a brand that has become ‘toxic’.

The recent leak scandal known as the ‘Facebook Papers’, as well as others that have emerged in recent years, have led to a loss of trust in the company. It has been associated with a seemingly endless list of scandals related to data privacy, misinformation and hate speech.

Many see the company’s name change as an attempt to clean up its image following the leaks by former employee Frances Haugen. The exposed documents claim that Facebook repeatedly prioritized its growth over user safety.

It was also learned that the company is responsible for fostering a “toxic” culture among young people on Instagram, that Facebook helped “fuel” the violence of the riots that occurred in the U.S. Capitol and that it treats high-profile users differently, among many other accusations. 

Facebook, now Meta, has denied the security allegations and claims it has more than 40,000 people working on the security of its services. Zuckerberg, for his part, called the leaked reports a coordinated effort in which documents have been selectively used to create a false image of the company. 

Unfortunately for the company, analysts claim that a rebranding will do little to help them distance themselves from their problems. According to Mike Proulx, vice president and research director at Forrester, a name change does not automatically erase the problems affecting Facebook and that if Meta does not address its problems in a profound way, those same drawbacks will affect the ‘metaverse’.

Will Facebook’s switch to Meta be successful?

It’s too early to tell, but there are factors that indicate Facebook may have trouble getting everyone to call them Meta. Due to the negative stories circulating about the company and the idea by many that the company is looking to deflect attention, the change is seen as merely a ‘cosmetic’ move. 

On the other hand, Zuckerberg claims that the name is related to his ambitious project to create the ‘metaverse’. However, it is something that does not yet exist and is a long-term product, as the CEO himself commented. Therefore, the company carries a name that for the time being is totally unrelated to its core offering. Currently, most of the company’s revenue comes from Facebook and Instagram advertising.

Another reason is that rebranding by big tech companies is rarely successful. Recall again Google, which in 2015 changed to Alphabet, but in reality few – if anyone – actually call it that. 

In any case, what is clear with the change from Facebook to Meta is that Zuckerberg’s focus is no longer on social networks. His new goal is to create virtual worlds capable of transforming the human experience. Whether or not he will succeed in this mission will have to wait a few years.