The Facebook and Instagram platforms, the WhatsApp and Messenger apps and the Oculus virtual reality headsets now belong to Meta, the new name of the Californian group that dreams of being the master of a parallel world, far from the daily scandals linked to social networks.
Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of Facebook, announced on Thursday the creation of this parent company, to better represent all its activities. The names of the various services will remain unchanged.
The founder of the tech giant, accused of putting profits before people by many elected officials, chose “meta” – “beyond” in ancient Greek – to show that there is “always more to build” and a new blue logo in the shape of a horizontal “8”, resembling the infinity symbol in mathematics.
“We have learned a lot by facing many problems,” he said, saying it was now time to learn the lessons to “build the next chapter.
He had just spent an hour and a half presenting the “metaverse”.
The “metaverse” represents, according to him, the future of the Internet, after the era of computers and smartphones. The public will have access to it to interact, work or be entertained via augmented reality glasses and virtual reality headsets, in particular.
But this change of epithet is being interpreted as a distraction by the detractors of the Californian group, which is entangled in scandals ranging from data privacy to compliance with competition law.
Changing the name doesn’t change the reality that Facebook is destroying our democracy and is the chief peddler of misinformation and hatesaid an NGO of anti-Facebook activists, ironically dubbed The Real Facebook Oversight Board.
Twitter was full of sarcasm and critical reactions.
Meta, that is, +we are a cancer to democracy that is metastasizing into a surveillance and propaganda machine to support authoritarian regimes and destroy civil society… and make a profit!asserted elected official Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, star of the American left.
Others pointed out that Google has remained Google in the minds of many, despite the creation in 2015 of the parent company Alphabet to oversee its experimental and innovative activities.
The anger of the authorities and civil society has grown in recent weeks against Facebook, thanks to the revelations of a whistleblower, Frances Haugen, which show that the group has chosen to ignore some of the dangers – toxic content on Instagram for teenagers, misinformation that harms democracy, etc. – for the sake of preserving its profits.
The company, which has already been the target of numerous investigations and lawsuits, is now facing a new investigation by the US government, based on internal documents that the former engineer submitted to the country’s stock exchange authority, the SEC.
On Tuesday, Facebook asked all its employees to keep all documents for several years in order to respond to any legal requests.
Vision of the metaverse
In his presentation, Mark Zuckerberg said very little about his company’s worries, and only in an abstract or positive way.
“The last few years have taught me many lessons in humility,” he said.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that lack of choice and high prices are stifling innovation, preventing people from building new things and holding back the entire digital economy,” he continued – a jab at neighbouring Apple and its ecosystem built around the iPhone.
The billionaire mostly elaborated on his vision of the metaverse, which should “give a deep sense of the other’s presence”.
He depicted a future ultra-immersive universe, reminiscent of science fiction novels, where real people and objects will be mixed with virtual avatars and images, thanks to new advanced technologies.
“You’re going to be able to send a text message just by visualizing your fingers writing the message, it’s going to be amazing,” he enthused.
Meta wants to invest several billion over the next few years to build an ecosystem that is expected to have “a billion users, hundreds of billions of dollars in digital commerce, and millions of jobs for creators and developers” within ten years.
Mark Zuckerberg also stressed the need to build programs that allow for interoperability – such as the ability to create an item of clothing in one space and then use it in another – and assured that users would “not be trapped in one world or one platform.”
Facebook to change its name to “Meta
The name change will concern the parent company for reasons of clarity, but the names of the various networks, including Facebook, will remain unchanged.
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday that the parent company will now be called Meta, to better represent all its activities, but the names of the various networks will remain unchanged. The tech giant’s founder, who has been accused of putting profits before people by a whistleblower and many elected officials, chose “meta” – “beyond” in ancient Greek – to show that there is “always more to build.” “We have learned a lot by facing many problems,” he said, saying it was now time to learn the lessons to “build the next chapter. This announcement was made at the end of an hour and a half presentation of the “metaverse”, “metavers” in French for meta-universe.
According to him, the metaverse represents the future of the Internet, after computers and mobile phones, to which the public will have access to interact, work or be entertained via technologies (augmented reality glasses, virtual reality headsets, etc.). This name change is interpreted as a distraction manoeuvre by critics of the Californian group, which is entangled in scandals and controversies, from misinformation to data privacy to compliance with competition law.
Facebook “thinks a new brand can help it change the subject”
The firm “thinks a rebrand can help it change the subject,” an NGO of anti-Facebook activists, ironically dubbed “The Real Facebook Oversight Board,” already reacted last week when rumours of a name change were circulating. The anger of the authorities and civil society has grown in recent weeks with the revelations of a whistleblower, Frances Haugen, that Facebook has chosen to ignore some of the dangers – toxic content on Instagram for teenagers, misinformation that harms democracy, etc. – for the sake of preserving its profits.
However, Mark Zuckerberg has been talking about the metaverse for several months. He’s already announced billions in investments over the next few years and the recruitment of 10,000 people in Europe for the project. He gave more details on Thursday, painting a future worthy of science fiction while offering perspectives to brands in terms of marketing.