Mired in scandals, Facebook changes its name to “Meta”

In front of Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, the famous thumbs-up logo has given way to an elongated blue eight, the mathematical symbol of infinity. While Silicon Valley has been buzzing for weeks with rumors and speculation concerning the change of name of the Californian giant, its CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled, Thursday, October 28, the new identity of the parent company: the Facebook group will be called now “Meta” and will bring together under its banner the Facebook and Instagram platforms, the WhatsApp and Messenger messaging systems and the Oculus virtual reality headsets.

The choice of the name Meta, which means ” beyond “ in Greek, is a way of showing that there is “Always more to build”, said the 37-year-old boss during a virtual conference broadcast live.

→ FOCUS. What are the “metaverse”, these parallel worlds that Facebook wants to develop?

With this name change, the tech giant clearly seeks to reflect its new priority: its “metaverse” project, an online universe in which Internet users interact in shared virtual spaces for work or entertainment, thanks to various technologies (virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, etc.). “We are convinced that the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile Internet”, hammered, all smiles, Mark Zuckerberg who also qualified his project of “New frontier” digital.

” To divert attention “

But the fact that this great project is unveiled at the same time when the company is entangled in a series of ethical scandals that have considerably weakened it in recent months, is far from trivial, say observers in Silicon Valley. In recent weeks, statements by former employee Frances Haugen, who accuses the company of prioritizing profits over user safety, have dealt the tech giant a severe blow.

→ CONTEXT. Facebook plunges into turmoil

For Roger McNamee, former advisor to Mark Zuckerberg and former Facebook investor, “Facebook’s name change is a desperate attempt to achieve two goals: first, to distract from policymakers and the press, after the Frances Haugen revelations. Second, create a new organizational model that insulates Mark Zuckerberg from liability for the damage his business has caused under his leadership. ” For the businessman, as the new CEO of Meta, Zuckerberg could hand over the reins of the Facebook platform to another executive who would then become the face of the company in hearings before Congress.

Strengthening Facebook’s technological credibility

Marketing professor at the University of Southern California (USC), Dina Mayzlin is not convinced that Frances Haugen’s recent revelations alone are the reason for the launch of Meta. “In my opinion, this project had been in the works for a long time, long before this new case arose”, she notes.

For the teacher, the creation of Meta has above all the double advantage of strengthening the technological credibility of Facebook while “Evacuating conversations around scandals” repeatedly which have weakened the image of the group for years. “For Zuckerberg, the creation of Meta aims in my opinion to reassure its clients and investors by showing them that the group is still a powerful cutting-edge company which embodies the future of new technologies and which is also capable of seducing the younger generation. – so difficult to retain – with its metaverse “, she notes.

A strategy that does not convince Jan-Benedict Steenkamp, ​​professor of marketing, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “It is not by changing the subject of conversation that they will make people forget the scandals, he believes. The group will not be able to move forward until they get their house in order. “


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