By Kaushal Agarwal
London, United Kingdom
Facebook’s parent company has officially changed its name to Meta. It has also introduced a stylistic change of its logo to an infinity loop resembling an ‘M’, in its efforts to conduct a “major rebrand” of the company. Critics say that the rebrand is an attempt to divert attention from the recent hoard of negative stories on Facebook’s methods and social culture.
Meta comes from the Classical Greek word for “beyond,” in relation to the “metaverse,” a hypothetical digital world where people can experience a parallel life to their real-world existence (consider, for instance, the film Ready Player One). Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said “over time, I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company, and I want to anchor our work and identity on what we're building toward.” Under this new umbrella, the company aims to create a virtual platform where people can “socialize, work, learn, play, shop and create” across various apps without the need of a Facebook account. The company's stock market ticker will change to MVRS from December 1st.
The company has racked up investments in augmented and Virtual Reality development, as competition grows in the neighborhoods of Silicon Valley from the likes of Apple and Google. The company's goal was first laid out in July of this year, when Zuckerberg promised to build a metaverse, in what some believe to be the future of the internet. People can enter virtual worlds with a headset, allowing them to access different digital environments such as concerts, workplaces, or a restaurant with friends.
Facebook faced immense criticism when a former Facebook employee, Ms. Frances Haugen, leaked documents about supposed polarization and the constant profits-over-safety culture in the company. Reports published by the Wall Street Journal also showcase Facebook ignoring the growing issues of teen mental health on its platforms and its violation of a $5 billion settlement made with the Federal Trade Commission.
Shares of Facebook have fallen 16% since the WSJ began publishing the reports in mid-September, and critics say Facebook seems to be running from a muddy past. Zuckerberg says these reports are a “coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company,” and denies these allegations from critics.