Face it, Facebook: Name change to Meta won’t erase your problems

Face it, Facebook: Name change to Meta won’t erase your problems


Analysis by Allison Morrow, CNN Business

Editor’s Note: A version of this story appeared in CNN Business’ Nightcap newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free, here.

Once upon a time, it was The Facebook. Then that definite article got the boot, and the world got to know simply Facebook (good call, Justin Timberlake).

Now we have Meta, a nod to the company’s “metaverse” ambitions (more on that dystopian hellscape in a moment).

Mark Zuckerberg announced the company he founded 17 years ago is getting a rebrand, effectively demoting Facebook’s namesake site to just one of several in the company’s stable of apps, which also includes Instagram and WhatsApp.

Naturally, it’s getting a new stock ticker, too. The company will drop $FB and begin trading under $MVRS (get it?) in December.

Facebook changes its company name to Meta

It’s not an uncommon move for a tech company of such scale — Google  created Alphabet as its parent company back in 2015 — but the timing of the Meta announcement is important. Facebook is desperately trying to army crawl itself out of a swamp of bad press revealing years of systemic failures to combat hate speech and misinformation. (The list of problems is so long and infuriating I’m not going to re-hash it all, but in case you’ve been snoozing on the Facebook Papers, you can get up to speed here.)

WHAT’S THE ‘METAVERSE’?

The name-change news capped a bizarre techno fever dream of a product presentation introducing the so-called metaverse. (As a quick aside: Do I want to write about the metaverse? For God’s sake no. Do I have to? A bit, yeah, sorry.)

In short, the metaverse is a dream of a future internet straight outta science fiction. No one has a set definition of yet, because, well, it doesn’t exist. But Facebook describes it as “a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.”

The presentation showed a series of concept videos that highlighted Facebook’s Meta’s vision for a sort of augmented reality — one where you can send a holographic image of yourself to a concert with a friend attending in real life, or sit in a virtual meeting table with colleagues. Like, a more intense version of Zoom…and who doesn’t want more of that?

MY TWO CENTS

Let’s not let this Black Mirror-esque gobbledygook distract us from the very real hell Facebook has wrought in our non-augmented reality. No amount of corporate re-branding should let Zuck or anyone else off the hook for the real, tangible harms their product has manifested and continues to propagate without consequence.

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Kassie Hoffman
Kassie pens down all the news from the world of politics on ANH.