At its headquarters, Menlo Park, California, Facebook’s iconic thumbs-up sign was replaced by a new name and an infinity-shaped symbol. The new name: Meta.
The corporate rebranding unveiled on Thursday is a part of Facebook’s headlong sprint into the metaverse. A virtual environment where people could learn, work, play, and socialize together. CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the largely hypothetical metaverse “the successor to the mobile internet.”
In fact, Facebook could be repeating the practices that got it into trouble in the first place. The company encouraged a culture that rewarded new ideas without considering the risks.
Facebook’s legacy problems and fast-charging attitude. It has contributed to it racking up an endless list of scandals around data privacy, misinformation, and hate speech.
Documents leaked by former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen have proved especially damaging, alleging the company has misled the investors. And about its role in perpetuating hate speech, misinformation, and other harmful content.
Facebook rejects the accusations, saying that it has more than 40,000 employees working on safety and security.
Analysts view that a clever rebranding won’t help Facebook distance itself from its problems.
Mike Proulx, research director and vice president at Forrester, said in a statement, “If Meta doesn’t address its issues beyond a defensive and superficial altitude, those same issues will occupy the metaverse.”
Forrester surveyed 745 people across the UK, US, and Canada, said 75% of those polled disagreed that a new company name will increase their trust in Facebook.
Zuckerberg’s presentation painted a hopeful vision of the metaverse, filled with digital spaces for people to gather. Friends could fence using virtual swords, attend concerts from their homes or work together in virtual offices.
But Facebook will have to deal with the same issues it wrestles with on social media, including data privacy, security, child exploitation, and content moderation. Lies that spread on the platform have been blamed for the Jan. 6 insurrection and the hesitancy to get COVID vaccinations.
Changing its name won’t help Facebook dodge its old problems. Lawmakers, as celebrities and critics, took swings at the company after its big reveal. A well-known group of critics, The Real Facebook Oversight Board, said: “Facebook is destroying democracy and is the leading peddler of disinformation and hate,” “Changing their name doesn’t change reality.”
The group emphasized, “Their meaningless name change should not distract from the investigation, regulation, and real, independent oversight needed to hold Facebook accountable.”