This is… strange.
According to a report from The Verge, Facebook is set to announce a name change for the company next week, which will reflect its all-encompassing focus on adapting for the metaverse concept.
As per The Verge:
“The coming name change, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to talk about at the company’s annual Connect conference on October 28th, is meant to signal the tech giant’s ambition to be known for more than social media and all the ills that entail. The rebrand would likely position the blue Facebook app as one of many products under a parent company overseeing groups like Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and more.”
Which is not unheard of – Google, for example, rebranded its main parent brand to Alphabet back in 2015. But for Facebook, which is such a well-known, ubiquitous platform, with such a huge market presence, to switch to something else, aligned with the metaverse concept, which no one really knows for sure what it will be just yet, seems a little weird.
Of course, Google’s also a household name, and a verb in itself, and that hasn’t changed under the Alphabet banner. And there may well be other corporate considerations for such a change that are beyond the knowledge of the general public. But I just can’t imagine Zuckerberg’s social giant under another banner.
Zuckerberg has already flagged his intention to adapt Facebook for the metaverse, recently explaining that he envisions Facebook becoming ‘a metaverse company’.
“[The metaverse] touches a lot of the biggest themes that we’re working on. Think about things like community and creators as one, or digital commerce as a second, or building out the next set of computing platforms, like virtual and augmented reality, to give people that sense of presence. I think all of these different initiatives that we have at Facebook today will basically ladder up together to contribute to helping to build this metaverse vision.”
This is probably the clearest indicator of the potential logic behind a name change, as a new, metaverse-aligned brand would be a broader banner for all of Facebook’s different projects, of which, Facebook itself is now just one element. It makes some sense from that perspective, and even without a solid vision of what the metaverse will actually be, and how Facebook will play a part, you can see how a broader title, which incorporates these aspects, could be a better fit for the future of the company.
In terms of possible new names, Bloomberg has noted that the Chan Zuckerberg initiative, Zuckerberg’s philanthropic group, now holds the rights to the domains ‘meta.com’ and ‘meta.org’. Which has lead some to speculate that ‘Meta’ will be the new umbrella title for Facebook’s business interests.
someone (FB) has been doing a massive land grab of every "meta" domain over the past 6-8mo.— neil shankar is spooked (@tallneil) October 20, 2021
several uncommon TLDs like https://t.co/ae2jyONjSz were updated in the last 1mo.
it's gonna be META. https://t.co/MpB4Nh95w3
Which, as many of noted, points, somewhat uncomfortably, towards the origins of the term ‘metaverse’, which was coined by sci fi author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel ‘Snow Crash’. In that story, the metaverse refers to a digital space owned by a ruling corporation, which dictates interaction within the virtual world.
In theory, Facebook is looking to be that corporation, but the ruling corporate presence of Stephenson’s metaverse is not exactly a benign or humanitarian concept. The depiction is more of a ruthless giant driven by money and power, which is probably not the ideal business identity to then adopt in real-life.
But that appears, based on speculation, to be where Facebook is headed. But then again, I can’t help thinking that this is not real, that this is not a real change that Facebook is considering, and in fact, that this could actually be a broad-scale ruse for another purpose.
What could that purpose be? What if Facebook has had enough of the constant leaks from its internal meetings and announcements, which have lead to things like the recent ‘Facebook Files’ expose that’s set to spark a new round of expensive legal challenges for the company, along with the flood of bad PR? What if Facebook was looking to Slugworth the leakers – providing a fictional story of a corporate name change to a selected group, in order to then see whether it then makes its way to the press?
That probably also seems a little too far from reality to be true, but maybe Facebook is actually just trying to weed out the leaks, rather than make a name update.
Both scenarios, right now at least, seem equally viable, based on their radical nature alone, though evidence does seem to be pointing to a ‘meta’ aligned title update to better reflect the company’s expanding business interests.
We’ll find out soon – Facebook has thus far declined to comment on the speculation.