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The Facebook Rebrand in 2021: What Is Meta?

Facebook changed its name to Meta in late October 2021. If you’re wondering what this Facebook rebrand means, keep reading as we explore the ins and outs of the change.

Aleksander Hougen
By Aleksander Hougen (Managing Editor)
— Last Updated: 2022-02-15T17:16:08+00:00

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 15 years or so, chances are you’re well aware of Facebook and its iconic social media brand. However, as of October 2021, the parent company has changed its name from Facebook to Meta. In this article we’ll explore the reasons for this Facebook rebrand, as well as what it means for the platform and its users.

Key Takeaways:

  • Facebook (the parent company) has changed its name to Meta, in reference tothe metaverse, which combines social media with virtual and augmented reality — this will be the company’s main focus moving forward.
  • The social media platform will still be called Facebook and won’t be affected by the rebranding.
  • Google did a similar rebrand in 2015 when it established a holding company called Alphabet — the parent company to all of Google’s various holdings.

Facebook Founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg announced the executive changes at the company’s annual “Connect” conference on October 28, 2021, and stated that the tech giant would begin trading as “Meta Platforms” (or “Meta” for short).

Although the new parent company corporate name will be Meta (which will have a new logo and corporate structure), the social media platform itself will retain the name Facebook. It remains to be seen if Facebook Reality Labs, the division of the company responsible for building the “metaverse” and developing different apps for it, will change its name as well.

  • Facebook the social media platform is not being rebranded. The name change applies to the parent company, which will now be called Meta rather than Facebook, much like when Google reorganized as Alphabet a few years ago.

  • The parent company of Facebook will now be named Meta, in reference to the metaverse — an integration of social media with virtual and augmented reality — which is to become the focus of the next chapter in the company’s history.

  • No, the Facebook app will have the same name as before.

Why Did Facebook Rebrand to Meta?

There are a couple of different reasons Facebook would want to rebrand itself. The first, and perhaps most obvious, answer is that the social media company has been through the gauntlet of negative publicity and increasing scrutiny in the past few years, which has negatively affected its brand image.

The Facebook Papers

The most recent examples of this negative publicity include the October congressional testimony by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen as well as the release of the so-called Facebook Papers

These internal documents detail a range of instances where the company was tracking the negative effects of its platform and repeatedly ignored the warnings of employees about those effects — allegedly favoring profit over public good.

Into the Metaverse

Another reason outlined by Meta/Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his founder’s letter is that the rebrand symbolizes a shift in focus for the company. Whereas before they had been “Facebook-first,” the company will now re-orient itself toward the so-called metaverse, eventually phasing out Facebook’s integration with other services in favor of the metaverse.

mark zuckerberg said
Facebook’s 2021 Connect event held in Menlo Park was mostly an augmented reality conference where the company laid out some of its vision for the metaverse.

What Is Meta? Facebook’s Parent Company Explained

The name Meta is derived from the “metaverse,” which is a term that has existed since the 1990s, coined by Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash. Generally it refers to the integration of the internet with some form of virtual or augmented reality. Read our what is the Metaverse guide to broaden your horizon.

Is the Metaverse the Future of Virtual Reality?

Details on Facebook’s version of the metaverse are still pretty vague, but it revolves around combining social media with virtual reality to “be able to do almost anything you can imagine,” according to Mark Zuckerberg.

From the short descriptions we have so far, it seems likely that the plan for the metaverse is to be some sort of virtual reality suite that enables you to “step into” the social media experience rather than passively observe it.

metaverse company digital world
Mark Zuckerberg said the metaverse will connect people online in a way that hasn’t been possible before.

Zuckerberg gave some more concrete examples of what he imagines consumers will be able to use the platform for. He mentions being able to “teleport” to work or to a family event as a hologram, as well as replacing physical objects such as televisions, monitors and board games with digital holograms projected in virtual reality.

Facebook clearly envisions the metaverse as a piece of infrastructure that isn’t developed or maintained by any single company, much like today’s internet. That means that the metaverse won’t be a Facebook product, but rather the environment in which the company will develop applications and experiences.

Although a lot of this might seem like science fiction, both virtual and augmented reality have made massive leaps in the past few years. The social media giant is no stranger to the world of virtual reality headsets, either — all the way back in 2012 it purchased Oculus, which produces the VR headset Oculus Rift.

The Future of Meta and Facebook as a Social Media Company

For now, nothing changes for Facebook, the social network. It’ll be largely unaffected by the rebranding, and the website will still function and look the same. However, going by Zuckerberg’s founder’s letter, it seems that the company ultimately plans to integrate Facebook into the metaverse and phase out the need for Facebook accounts to access the company’s products.

ar social networking
The future of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp might be tied to augmented reality glasses.

It’s worth noting that Facebook has been pouring billions of dollars into its “metaverse division,” called Reality Labs, that supposedly builds technology like AR glasses.

Final Thoughts: Facebook/Meta

That’s all we know so far about Facebook’s new company name. Taken at face value, the company’s virtual reality dreams are certainly ambitious, as they aim to blur the line between the physical world and the virtual world. Whether or not this actually leads to new forms of communication and interaction with technology as Zuckerberg said remains to be seen.

What do you think about the Facebook rebrand? Do you think it’s mostly a cynical ploy to get away from bad publicity and regulatory scrutiny or are you excited by the company’s shift in focus? Do you think that the metaverse will become crucial to our day-to-day lives over the next decade the way the internet has? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.

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