Facebook revealed its new corporate name on Thursday, rebranding the owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp as “Meta” as it grapples with a torrent of scandals.
The tech giant’s old name just “doesn’t encompass everything that we do,” founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a lengthy online event.
Zuckerberg said the new name is part of the company’s long-term plan to create a “metaverse” — a virtual reality world where users can socialize, work, play games and create art. In a Thursday demo, a user wearing a headset walked the streets of ancient Rome, while another attended a virtual reality rock concert and afterparty.
The change comes as Facebook seeks to shake a torrent of scandals after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked company research showing Instagram’s negative effect on teens’ mental health, Facebook’s struggles to stop human trafficking on its platform and the widespread sharing of false news about elections on its sites.
A defiant Zuckerberg — who has not publicly responded to calls to testify in Congress amid the scandals — indirectly addressed the issue during the event and accused critics of being stuck in the past.
“With all the scrutiny and public debate, some of you might be wondering why we’re doing this right now,” said Zuckerberg. “Some people will say that this isn’t a time to focus on the future, and I want to acknowledge that there are important issues to work on in the present. There always will be.
“For many people, I’m not sure there will be a good time to focus on the future,” Zuckerberg added in an apparently sarcastic jab.
Nevertheless ,the new name quickly provoked jeers on social media, with many critics noting that the move looked like a desperate attempt to change the subject.
“This all happened because zuckerberg never meta girl until college,” quipped one Twitter user.
“No Meta what you call Facebook it sucks,” said another.
Zuckerberg said the company plans to spend billions of dollars on developing the metaverse and added that he hopes to have 1 billion people join the virtual world in the next ten years. Ad dollars from Facebook’s core products will supplement the development of the metaverse, which the company has said will not be profitable for years.
The company’s new “Meta” logo includes what appears to be a warped version of the infinity symbol. The company’s most popular products, the social media site Facebook, will keep its name even as the parent company is rebranded.
Facebook has repainted the sign outside its Silicon Valley headquarters with the Meta logo, according to videos shared on Twitter.
Facebook said its stock’s ticker symbol on the Nasdaq will change from “FB” to “MVRS” on Dec. 1.
In another nod toward Zuckerberg’s metaverse ambitions, the company said on Tuesday that it would begin reporting earnings for two separate sub-categories starting in December.
The “Family of Apps” category will include Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, while “Facebook Reality Labs” will include the company’s augmented and virtual reality products, including its Oculus headsets.
The last time the company changed its name was 2005, when it changed from TheFacebook to Facebook.
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