Social media giant Facebook is rebranding as Meta, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced.
It's part of an effort to encompass its virtual-reality vision for the future - something Zuckerberg calls the “metaverse.”
Sceptics point out that it also appears to be an attempt to change the subject from the Facebook Papers, a leaked document trove that has revealed the ways Facebook ignored internal reports and warnings of the harms that its social network created or magnified across the world.
Zuckerberg says he expects the metaverse to reach a billion people within the next decade. The metaverse, he says, will be a place people will be able to interact, work and create products and content in what he hopes will be a new ecosystem that creates “millions” of jobs for creators.
In explaining the rebrand, Zuckerberg said the name “Facebook” just doesn't encompass “everything we do” anymore. In addition to its primary social network, the company also includes Instagram, Messenger, its Quest VR headset, its Horizon VR platform and more.
"To reflect who we are and the future we hope to build, I’m proud to share that our company is now Meta," he said.
"Our mission remains the same — it’s still about bringing people together. Our apps and their brands aren’t changing either. We’re still the company that designs technology around people.
"But all of our products, including our apps, now share a new vision: to help bring the metaverse to life. And now we have a name that reflects the breadth of what we do.
"From now on, we will be metaverse-first, not Facebook-first. That means that over time you won’t need a Facebook account to use our other services. As our new brand starts showing up in our products, I hope people around the world come to know the Meta brand and the future we stand for."
The announcement comes amid an existential crisis for Facebook. It faces heightened legislative and regulatory scrutiny in many parts of the world following revelations in the Facebook Papers.
Some of Facebook’s biggest critics seemed unimpressed. The Real Facebook Oversight Board, a watchdog group focused on the company, announced that it will keep its own name.
“Changing their name doesn’t change reality: Facebook is destroying our democracy and is the world’s leading peddler of disinformation and hate," the group said in a statement. "Their meaningless name change should not distract from the investigation, regulation and real, independent oversight needed to hold Facebook accountable.”
Watch the full interview with tech journalist Jennifer Baker in the video player above.