Facebook is reportedly planning to change its company name as soon as next week in an effort to distance it from recent scandals and align it more closely with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent obsession with the “metaverse.”
Facebook’s app and website would be unchanged, The Verge reported, but the parent company will rebrand in a similar structure to that of Alphabet, which is the holding company behind Google and the firm’s lesser-known ventures.
Zuckerberg plans to talk about the new name at the company’s annual Connect conference on October 28, but it could be announced sooner, the outlet reported, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
The new name will reportedly reflect the company’s efforts to expand beyond social media — a business that has become increasingly plagued by critics and scandals in recent year.
Facebook also owns Instagram, WhatsApp, virtual-reality headset business Oculus and more.
When asked about the reported name change, Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesperson, said, “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation.”
Shares of Facebook were less than 1 percent higher in premarket trading on the news.
Zuckerberg has previously spoken about his recent interest in the so-called metaverse, which he predicted could become even more ubiquitous than smartphones and the internet.
The idea of the metaverse reflects the evolution of the internet and the hardware that lets people access it so that the virtual and physical worlds become more closely enmeshed.
Zuckerberg has previously spoken about goods like art, clothing and media becoming important in the metaverse as augmented reality glasses — like the kind his company debuted last month — become more prolific.
In July, Zuckerberg told The Verge that, over the next several years, “we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.”
The expected rebrand could also help Facebook distance its research on the metaverse from its more controversial cash-cow businesses in social media.
Earlier this month, a former Facebook employee turned whistleblower, Frances Haugen, leaked a trove of damning internal research to The Wall Street Journal.
The documents showed, among other things, that Facebook targeted the recruitment of younger users even as its researchers found Instagram was especially harmful for young girls.
She was called upon to testify in Congress, where she slammed Facebook, saying it puts its bottom line ahead of the health and safety of its users.
Facebook has sought to discredit Haugen as a disgruntled employee, and the company has attacked the media for allegedly mischaracterizing the leaked internal documents, saying that the findings of the research were inconclusive.
— Additional reporting by Kenneth Garger
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