By Caroline Friendly and Lily Levitzky
On October 28, social media giant Facebook, led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, announced a name change during the company’s annual Connect conference. Effective immediately, the Facebook parent company would now be known as Meta. But what does this mean for the average user and for the future of Facebook and social media as a whole?
To put it plainly, not much. The Facebook parent company, composed of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus, has been operating under the umbrella of Facebook since the acquisition of Instagram in 2012, and nothing about these sites will change with the new name. So why go to all this trouble to change the name? In an interview with The Verge, Zuckerberg said, “People think of us as a social media company, but the way we think about ourselves is that we’re a technology company that builds technology to help people connect with each other.” He hopes that the change will affect the way that the public perceives the company.
Recently, many negative reports surround Facebook, pointing to a spectrum of issues, from vaccine misinformation to racist speech. Since these reports have come out, Zuckerburg has attempted to improve Facebook’s image by distancing himself from these reports and marketing the company in more innovative ways. According to Zuckerberg, though, the negative news “had nothing to bear on this. Even though I think some people might want to make that connection, I think that’s sort of a ridiculous thing. If anything, I think that this is not the environment that you would want to introduce a new brand in.” Despite Zuckerberg’s defense, many say that this rebrand is part of his initiative to shift the company away from the criticism it has faced and reinvent it.
Although the renaming of the company is the story to the public, the real change comes with a byproduct of Meta: the Metaverse, as Zuckerberg calls it. Like a social media Minecraft, the Metaverse is a virtual reality space where users can interact for an immersive social media experience. Ally Kennedy, ‘23, says “I’m excited to see what this change brings to our daily lives, but I’m also worried about the negative effects this may have! I don’t want Facebook to be able to control our lives.” Peter Allen Clark writes in Time that “the promise of the Metaverse is to allow a greater overlap of our digital and physical lives in wealth, socialization, productivity, shopping and entertainment.”