Facebook has announced a company name change as part of a major rebrand.
Facebook is now called Meta, the company said on Thursday October 28 in a rebrand that focuses on building the “metaverse”, a shared virtual environment that it bets will be the successor to the mobile internet.
The name change comes as the world’s largest social media company battles criticisms from lawmakers and regulators over its market power, algorithmic decisions and the policing of abuses on its services.
The metaverse is a term coined in the dystopian novel Snow Crash three decades ago and now attracting buzz in Silicon Valley. It refers broadly to the idea of a shared virtual realm which can be accessed by people using different devices.
Speaking at the company’s live-streamed virtual and augmented reality conference, Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the new name reflected its work investing in the metaverse, rather than its namesake social media service, which will continue to be called Facebook.
This includes a push ahead with plans to develop the so-called metaverse, an online world where people can meet, play and work virtually, often using VR headsets.
While the wider company name is being rebranded to Meta, the core Facebook service will remain unchanged.
“Over time, I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we’re building towards,” he said in a virtual conference.
“We just announced that we were making a fundamental change to our company. We’re now looking at and reporting on our business as two different segments, one for our family of apps, and one for our work on future platforms.
“I am proud to announce that starting today, our company is now Meta.”
The change in name comes amid a string of controversies that have followed the company’s various ventures, particularly the main Facebook platform, Instagram and WhatsApp.
The social media boss said he was ‘sorry for the disruption’ after it emerged he had personally lost more than £4.4billion due to Facebook stock plummeting.
“Right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything that we’re doing today, let alone in the future,” said Zuckerberg.
The company, which has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality, said the change would bring together its different apps and technologies under one new brand. It said it would not change its corporate structure.
The tech giant, which reports about 2.9 billion monthly users, has faced increasing scrutiny in recent years from global lawmakers and regulators.
This year, the company created a product team in this unit focused on the metaverse and it recently announced plans to hire 10,000 employees in Europe over the next five years to work on the effort.
In an interview with tech publication the Information, Zuckerberg said he has not considered stepping down as CEO, and has not thought “very seriously yet” about spinning off this unit.
Zuckerberg said the new name, coming from the Greek word for “beyond,” symbolised there was always more to build. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Thursday tweeted out a different definition “referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential.”
In 2015, Google reorganised to create a new holding company called Alphabet, as the popular search engine broke into new fields such as self-driving cars, high-speed broadband and expanded its cloud business. Snapchat also rebranded to Snap in 2016, the same year it launched its first pair of smart glasses.
(Inputs source REUTERS)