The social network Facebook will no longer define the future of the company, which will now be known as Meta. Facebook Inc. is changing its name to differentiate its beleaguered social network, which has an increasingly poor reputation around the world, from the company whose future is based on the promise of a “metaverse.”
“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. From now on, we’re going to be metaverse-first, not Facebook first,” Zuckerberg said.
During a virtual (meta-virtual?) keynote for the company’s Connect event, Zuckerberg revealed the new name. Facebook and its “family of apps” will now be a division of the larger Meta company, which will still be led by Zuckerberg.
The restructuring is similar to when Google restructured into Alphabet, the holding company that now operates Google as well as its “other bets” such as DeepMind and Nest.
Facebook previously stated that it intends to separate Facebook Reality Labs, its AR and VR division, from the rest of the company when reporting financial results.
It added in a new statement that its “corporate structure” will not change. Beginning in December, the company’s stock ticker will be changed from FB to MVRS.
The name is being positioned as more reflective of the company’s future ambitions to transition from social network to metaverse company. Although Zuckerberg has yet to clearly define what it means to be a “metaverse company” for its main platform and users, augmented and virtual reality is central to the vision.
The company has already demonstrated an early version of one project, Horizon Workrooms, which allows people to conduct meetings in virtual reality. In addition, the company showcased new “Horizon Home” and “Horizon Venues” experiences.
(According to incoming CTO Andrew Bosworth, all of the company’s social VR products will fall under the larger “Meta Horizon” brand.) Earlier this month, the company announced plans to hire 10,000 new employees in Europe to help build out its metaverse.
The name change also comes at a critical juncture in the company’s history. The social network is still reeling from the fallout from the “Facebook Papers,” a trove of internal documents amassed by a former employee turned whistleblower.
The documents have been the source of more than a dozen reports about the company’s failures to stem the tide of misinformation, hate speech, and other harms caused by the platform, as well as the basis for a series of complaints to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The new name also means that the iconic Facebook “thumbs up” will no longer serve as the company’s official logo or be displayed on signage at its headquarters. (Incidentally, a central narrative of the Facebook Papers disclosures has been the role of “likes” and other reactions in enabling hate and anger on Facebook.)
The company stated in a blog post about the new name and logo design that the new logo was optimized for 3D experiences and “designed to be experienced from different perspectives and interacted with.”
It’s worth noting that the new name has no effect on the main Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp services, which will continue to be known by their current names.
However, as time passes, the services may provide more metaverse-oriented experiences. According to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri, users can expect “a more immersive Instagram experience in the metaverse.”
Bosworth also mentions that some “relevant products and services” will be rebranded, such as the Portal lineup, which will eventually be branded as “Meta Portal.” The company also intends to “retire” the Oculus brand, with the VR products adopting the Meta identity.