Following the leaking of the whistleblower documents that claimed Facebook’s platforms harm users, Facebook is rebranding its mother company and will now be identified as Meta. This is an attempt by Mark Zuckerberg to distance Facebook platforms from stirring up scandals. Meta stands for “Metaverse”. This represents the transition of Facebook to shared augmented which utilizes work and play in virtual world environments. This is Zuckerberg’s vision for the company.
Zuckerberg announced this on Thursday, at the Facebook Connect augmented and virtual reality conference. At the time the announcement was made, employees outside the Silicon Valley headquarters pulled down a curtain that held the ‘Like’ sign of Facebook, in order to reveal the rebranded name and logo.
The name ‘Facebook’ will be retained by the brand in the future. However, its parent company, which went by the name Facebook Inc until now, will be changed to Meta. The parent company owns Instagram and WhatsApp as well. Starting from the 1st of December, it will be trading under MVTS.
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The company has faced numerous issues after many internal documents were leaked by Frances Haugen. She claimed that with its content, the company deliberately harms teenagers and fuels anger between users, putting profits over people. Haugen used to be a product manager at Facebook. When she left the company, she secretly copied loads of confidential documents and proceeded to release them to numerous news outlets. Testifying before the Congress and the British Parliament, she presented her findings on how Facebook caused harm to the youth.
According to these leaked documents, Instagram affects the suicidal thoughts experienced by 13.5% of British teenagers and 6% of American teenagers. Also, Haugen claims that 32% of girls have stated that Instagram increases their insecurities about their bodies. Another claim states that Instagram presents posts of extremely thin and anorexic females to women and teens who suffer from eating disorders. Another important discovery is the staff’s reports of concern regarding the company’s continuous failure to regulate hate speech.
Haugen also claims that Facebook failed to disclose that its demand among youngsters is reducing. The US Securities and Exchange Commission was potentially misled by this. According to a Bloomberg report, from 2020 to 2021, the time US teenagers spent on Facebook was down by 16%. Also, the time spent on the app by young adults aged 18 to 29 was down by 5%.
However, despite these claims, Meta reports that the app has returned soaring profits in the latest quarter. According to the company, its profits have been increased by 17% during the July-September period to $9.19 billion. The year before, the profit was $7.85 billion.
Along with the name change, a new logo featuring a blue infinity symbol has also been introduced. The new focus of Metaverse is to expand beyond social media apps. Zuckerberg remarks that their mission is still the same, which is bringing people together. He states that Metaverse is the next chapter of the company. He also states that while most tech companies focus on connecting people to technology, Metaverse focuses on building technology that helps people connect with one another.
In addition to the rebranding, Meta also announced the launch of many new products. Project Cambria is a virtual reality headset that will be released next year. They also announced Project Nazare as the code name for its first smart glasses that are fully AR-capable.
Despite the rebranding, however, the real question remains. Is changing the name enough for Meta to get rid of all the public relations nightmares? According to the independent oversight board of the company, rebranding doesn’t change the reality. ‘Facebook is destroying our democracy and is the world’s leading peddler of disinformation and hate’, the group stated. They explained that the investigations and regulations shouldn’t be distracted by the name change.
According to US officials, Meta has agreed to pay $14.25 million for the purpose of settling civil claims by the government. These claims are regarding discrimination against American workers and violation of federal recruitment rules.
During the announcement of the new name, Zuckerberg completely disregarded the scandals and the Facebook papers. His sole focus was on the future goals of Meta.