Prepare for a good amount of confusion in the coming months, because Facebook – whose products are being used by more than 3 billion persons worldwide – has made a decision to rebrand itself. Here’s all you need to know.
What has happened?
After a good amount of speculation, Facebook, the business that owns platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, rebranded as Meta on 28 October. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told attendees at the company’s gross annual Connect conference: “Right now, our brand is so tightly associated with one product that it can’t possibly represent everything that we’re doing today, aside from in the future. Over time, I hope that people are seen as a metaverse company, and I wish to anchor our work and identity on what we’re building toward.”
It is vital to note that Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram will all be keeping their names. However the company that produces and maintains them will now be called Meta – similar to Google’s 2015 corporate restructuring into a parent company called Alphabet. Facebook (the company) even changed the logo outside its building on 28 October.
Sorry, exactly what is a metaverse?
The name was chosen to echo the main element product that Zuckerberg hopes Facebook – now Meta – will be represented by: the metaverse, the name for a shared online 3D virtual space that a number of companies are considering creating as sort of future version of the web.
“In this future, it will be easy to teleport immediately as a hologram to be in the office with out a commute, at a concert with friends, or in your parents’ living room to catch up,” Zuckerberg wrote in a letter announcing Facebook’s rebranding as Meta.
Nonetheless it is in the foreseeable future. Not now. The metaverse unveiled by the business in August looks like The Sims or another immersive world: the 2003 video game Second Life .
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How come Zuckerberg doing this?
To begin with, Meta doesn’t desire to be known solely as a social media platform. “ My suspicion is that is approximately owning the operating system into the future, and Facebook’s connection with being an iphone app on other people’s – rivals’ – os’s,” says Anupam Chander at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington DC. “They don’t desire to be prisoner on other people’s platform. They want others to be prisoner on the platform.”
Meta did make oblique references to Apple in its announcement, saying it wished to avoid a single company restricting you skill and charging high fees, but Max Van Kleek at the University of Oxford is sceptical that Meta itself will wield control over its metaverse.
“Is Meta likely to simply supply the tools instead of be the gatekeeper? I doubt that they might relinquish anything that might compromise their position as the definitive advertisement provider of the metaverse, for example,” says Van Kleek.
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Doesn’t Facebook – sorry, Meta – have bigger what to worry about?
There has been a reliable drip of negative stories following a release of the Facebook Papers, internal documents highlighting issues with the company, secreted out of your firm by whistleblower Frances Haugen. Some have observed the new name as a way to distract out of this narrative.
“All of the bad press and political battles it really is currently fighting want to do with its social media products, so launching something totally new – within their minds – is ways to completely rebrand and begin fresh, without changing much with the prevailing problematic products,” says Taina Bucher at the University of Oslo, Norway, and writer of the book Facebook .
Chander sees it as an effort to overlook, instead of overwrite, the problems raised by the Facebook Papers. “I believe that is Facebook trying to pretend that there aren’t strong headwinds, and carrying on as though those headwinds didn’t exist,” he says.
What happens if Meta succeeds?
One issue with Meta trying to be the only real company underpinning the metaverse may be the pivotal role it could play inside our lives if its vision into the future becomes a reality. The company has struggled with outages on its key software that removed the opportunity to communicate for large parts of the world in recent months – and if such a thing were to happen within an all-pervasive VR universe like the metaverse, the consequences could possibly be huge.
“The whole presentation of the metaverse is indeed utopian and naive,” says Bucher. “It makes a whole lot of sweeping assumptions about how exactly persons live their lives. I’m sure not everyone will be so thrilled about [having it in] the house space.”
“This is just one more world that they would like to conquer,” says Chander. “Having conquered the planet earth, they now want to conquer the virtual metaverse.”
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