Facebook is now Meta. No, not the app you use

Political personalities, academics and the general public have all criticised Mark Zuckerberg's Meta for numerous reasons. Can Facebook overcome its challenges and successfully establish itself in the world of AI?

 |  3-minute read |   29-10-2021
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Since going global in 2004, Facebook has been a forerunner in the world of social media. Its timely acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp gave Facebook the power to create its monopoly in social media technology. Now, in 2021, the multi-brand company has changed its parent name from ‘Facebook’ to ‘Meta’.  The ‘metaverse’ is intended to give people a platform to game, work and communicate in the online world. Mark Zuckerberg plans on creating the ‘multiverse’ through Visual Reality and Augmented Reality. But what does it mean for the company and its competition in the Silicon Valley?

Mark Zuckerberg during the virtual conference Mark Zuckerberg with the new name and logo

WHAT MARK SAYS: Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook said in his virtual conference, “Right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can't possibly represent everything that we're doing today, let alone in the future. Over time, I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company, and I want to anchor our work and identity on what we're building toward.”

WHY: This move comes after multiple negative stories, when an ex-employee leaked documents and TIME’s strong cover on Facebook. The whistleblower, Frances Haugen, had accused the company of prioritising profits over the safety of its users. The documents also claimed that Facebook had research that showed Instagram was harming teenage mental health, and that Facebook struggled to remove hate speech across its platforms outside the US. Facebook has also been criticised for the spread of fake news and data leaks in recent times.

THE REACTIONS: Kristen Martin, professor of technology ethics at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business in the US said in a statement, “Facebook executives have not proven to be trustworthy with their products in the real world, so it's not clear why we should trust them in a virtual world."

NYC representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) called it “a global surveillance and propaganda machine for boosting authoritarian regimes and destroying civil society... for profit!”, while The Daily Show tweeted, “Nobody asked for this new Facebook feature.”

NOW, THE JOKES: Shortly after the announcement, fast-food chain Wendys also changed its Twitter handle to “Meat”, joking it was now going ‘Into The Meatverse’. Users across the world also voiced their thoughts on the name change with humour. Here are a few:

BUT FACEBOOK IS LATE: In 2020, AI market leader IBM announced that the brand was completely moving its focus to AI, while a new company called ‘NewCo’ would focus on the brand’s legacy. Google CEO Sundar Pichai also announced a new AI division in 2017 that would focus on combining the technology with their hardware, aiming at universal accessibility. With Facebook announcing its ‘metaverse’ in 2021 and being years away from completely coming to life, the social media giant is facing competition from previously established brands in the world of AI. Unlike its competitors, Facebook is also going to have to overcome the negative hits its reputation has taken, to truly establish itself in this developing industry.

THE O: After immense criticism and controversy over its policies, Mark Zuckerberg has renamed his parent company from Facebook to 'Meta'. He has grand plans of bringing to life a 'metaverse', but people are skeptical. Political personalities, academics and the general public have all criticised the metaverse for numerous reasons. Can Facebook overcome its challenges and successfully establish itself in the world of AI? Only time will tell.

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