Facebook's name change could be revealed next week

The changes would reflect the social media giant's new focus on the "Metaverse" meeting service.

 

Facebook has plans to change its name, effectively rebranding the company as it shifts its attention to building the "metaverse".

The name change would only apply to Facebook's holding company, and not the social media platform itself. The company owns the divisive site, as well as Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus.

According to a report from the Verge, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and chief executive, plans to discuss the proposed changes at a company event scheduled for next week, although the new name could be revealed sooner. Facebook itself has addressed these guesstimates by saying: "[it] doesn't comment on rumour or speculation".

The name change will represent a huge shift for Zuckerberg and co, and establish Facebook as one of multiple products owned by the parent company – no doubt in order to dispel assumptions that it is solely a social media company, given the oftentimes damaging nature of networking sites.

New horizons

The holding company's new name could be related to "Horizon", a term that has already been used in various virtual reality products currently in development.

 

Enter the metaverse

We'll learn more about the metaverse next week, as part of the annual Connect product conference, which could also be the perfect time to announce a new company name.

The metaverse is the driving force behind the company's growth strategy, and would allow people to use augmented reality and VR headsets to enhance their personal lives and professional endeavors. As such, Oculus products will be a pivotal part of the metaverse.

Metaverse users would be able to step inside content, instead of simply viewing it, and live their lives in an online space. You could chat with friends, attend performances, and go to work in a virtual environment. In fact, vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, claims that all of his Monday morning meetings now take place within the metaverse.

But this digital playground is not as utopic as it initially seems. Privacy advocates are concerned that people's ordinary lives could be consumed by big tech and their virtual work and social spaces, and that more government protections are needed. Likewise, many believe that the metaverse is simply another way for Facebook to collect and monetize user data.

By marketing the metaverse as, simultaneously, a fun place to meet friends and an effective workspace, Facebook hopes that you'll spend as much time in the virtual world as possible – which would be ideal for any data harvesting purposes.

The social-political dangers of the metaverse are likewise alarming, and would likely reflect existing issues of regulation, surveillance, and the representation of marginalized groups on social media, only on a much larger scale. Some experts are also concerned that the digital population of the metaverse may become imbalanced, given how difficult and expensive it can be to access new technologies.

Shifting focus

Facebook's proposed name change also comes at a time where the company is under more scrutiny than ever before – thanks in no small part to Frances Haugen, a former employee, and the slew of documents leaked to The Wall Street Journal, as well as her later testimony in Congress.

The company has been left to pick up the pieces of its shattered reputation and field more and more calls for regulation that could curb the social media titan's influence. Critics claim that the new name will be nothing more than a publicity stunt designed to divert attention away from these scandals and improve Zuckerberg's tarnished character, once again painting him as an inspired innovator.

However, it'll take a lot more than a new name to change public sentiment, and much more information is needed about the metaverse before we should take our first virtual steps into a world literally made for us by big tech.

Written by: Hannah Hart

Originally hailing from Wales, Hannah Hart graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a 1:1 in Creative Writing, going on to work as an Editor across a number of trade magazines. As a professional writer, Hannah has worked across both digital and print media, and is familiar with collating news pieces, in depth reports and producing by lines for international publications. Otherwise, she can be found pouring over a tarot deck or spending more hours than she'll ever admit playing Final Fantasy 14.

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