Facebook is now Meta: Social media giant rebrands to focus on the future amid criticism in the present

Facebook announced a name change Thursday that aims to combine everything it’s working on under one brand called Meta, thus taking some focus off the social media company that started in 2004.

The name reflects the tech giant’s belief that virtual tools and experiences for the so-called “metaverse” are the future of connectivity – from a company whose long-stated mission has been to connect people around the world.

“The defining quality of metaverse will be the feeling of being there — as if you were there with someone else or somewhere else,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in the founder’s address Thursday. “Feeling really present with someone else is the ultimate dream of social technology. That is why we are focused on building this.”

The move to Meta is reminiscent of Google positioning itself under the parent company name Alphabet in 2015.

Facebook’s rebranding comes at a time when the company and its practices are constantly being scrutinized and criticized. Recently, whistleblowers have submitted tens of thousands of documents that shed light on the company’s practices. The Wall Street Journal said the “Facebook papers” show the company was aware of the ill effects of its platform and did nothing to fix it.

Zuckerberg started Facebook as a social network while in college 17 years ago, and the company now owns one-off independent giants like Instagram and WhatsApp as well as Oculus VR and more.

Meta says it’s moving beyond 2D screens toward “immersive experiences like augmented and virtual reality to help build the next evolution in social technology.”

Headquartered in Menlo Park, California, Facebook has built a significant engineering presence in the Seattle area over the years, growing to 7,000 employees in Seattle, Bellevue and Kirkland, Washington. In 2020, for example, Facebook paid $367.6 million to purchase a brand new 6-acre, 400,000-square-foot complex from REI in the new Spring District development in Bellevue.

Meta says its corporate structure will not change, but that its financial results will now be announced as two operating segments: The Apps Family and Reality Labs. The company will also begin trading under the new stock index MVRS, on December 1.

Zuckerberg described Facebook as one of the most used technology products in world history, and said in his message that there is a lot to build in Meta.

“Our role on this journey is to accelerate the development of essential technologies, social platforms, and creative tools to bring life, and weave these technologies into our social media applications,” Zuckerberg said in his letter. “We believe the metaverse can enable better social experiences than anything that exists today, and we will devote our energy to helping realize its potential.”

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