Thursday, December 9

Facebook Announces Name Change to Meta in a Rebranding Effort | Goal

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social media giant will change the name of its holding company to Meta, in a rebranding that comes as the company faces a series of public relations crises.

Zuckerberg revealed the new name at Facebook’s annual AR / VR conference on Thursday, where he outlined the company’s virtual reality vision for the future.

The CEO outlined his plans to build the “metaverse” – a digital world built on our own, including virtual reality and augmented reality headsets. “We believe that the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile Internet,” Zuckerberg said. “We will be able to feel present, as if we are there with the people, no matter how far away we really are.”

With a blue infinity symbol as its logo, the new holding Meta will encompass Facebook, its largest subsidiary, in addition to applications such as Instagram, WhatsApp and the virtual reality brand Oculus.

In recent earnings reports, the company announced that its virtual reality segment had grown so substantially that it would now report its revenue separately, dividing its products into two categories.

Those categories include an “application family” that includes Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, and “reality labs” products that include AR and VR, as well as any related hardware.

Zuckerberg said Thursday that he expects the metaverse to reach 1 billion people in the next decade. He outlined futuristic plans to create a digital world, in which users will feel like they are together and will have a “sense of presence” despite being far apart.

The platform would allow users to personalize their avatars and digital spaces, decorating a digital office with photos, videos, and even books. The presentation envisioned users virtually inviting friends, two people attending a concert together despite being on the other side of the world, and colleagues doing business presentations remotely.

“When I send my parents a video with my children, they will feel that they are at the right time, without us looking through a small window,” he said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address during a virtual event on October 28.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address during a virtual event on October 28. Photograph: Eric Risberg / AP

However, he admitted that the company has a long way to go. “The best way to understand the metaverse is to experience it yourself,” Zuckerberg added, although “it doesn’t quite exist yet.”

Still, Zuckerberg said, Facebook released two of its metaverse projects in beta last year: Horizon World, which allows users to invite friends into their digital world, and Horizon Workrooms, which does the same in professional settings. He also said that Facebook plans to further explore NFTs and cryptocurrencies to help facilitate media that can be represented digitally, and is working on gaming applications.

Zuckerberg said the company will continue to offer services and cabling to developers at low or no cost in an attempt to attract a critical mass of people to the platform. The company has also dedicated $ 150 million to developers to create new immersive apps, games, and shows in the metaverse.

“We want to serve as many people as possible, which means working to make our services cost less and not more,” he said.

Facebook’s rebranding effort is unprecedented in the tech space: Google in 2015 restructured itself into a new holding company, placing subsidiaries, including its eponymous search engine YouTube and its self-driving car company Waymo, under a new umbrella company. called Alphabet.

But the Facebook ad comes in the middle of regulatory and public relations challenges. These include a series of recent reports based on documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen that exposed toxic business practices and inside knowledge of their long-term negative impact on public health.

The revelations of the “Faebook documents” are just the latest fight for the embattled company, which in recent years has received a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), was the subject of numerous hearings in Congress and in 2019 was fined. $ 5 billion from the Federal Trade Commission in 2019 for “misleading” users.

Critics of the platform argued Thursday that the metaverse project is a distraction from the company’s public relations crisis, and that the company runs the risk of making the same mistakes as in the past.

“The fact that Zuckerberg has set his sights firmly on the so-called ‘metaverse’ as societies around the world struggle to alleviate the myriad damages caused by their platforms only shows how disconnected Facebook is from real people.” said Imran Ahmed, executive director of the Center for Fighting Digital Hate.

In her recent testimony, Haugen said she was “shocked” to hear how much the company was investing in the metaverse while its security efforts failed. The company has dedicated $ 10 billion in 2021 to the metaverse, while its security division received $ 5 billion in funding.

“To echo the words of Frances Haugen, imagine what Facebook could achieve if it devoted even a fraction of its metaverse investment to the proper moderation of content to enforce even the most basic standards of truth, decency and progress,” said Ahmed. .

Others warned that the launch of Facebook’s metaverse could spell a new space in which the company has a monopoly, amid ongoing antitrust concerns.

Zuckerberg on Thursday tried to get ahead of such privacy and security concerns. Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president of global affairs, acknowledged that the company has faced criticism for failing to anticipate the long-term impacts of its problems.

“We have years until the metaverse as we envision it is fully realized. This is the beginning of the journey, ”Clegg said.

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