Facebook to change name to Meta or Horizon?

Facebook is burnt on abusing user privacy at all cost

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is said to be preparing to announce a name change to either Horizon or Meta on October 28, 2021 following a myriad of backlashes and scrutiny over its business practices.

Citing a report by The Verge, Bloomberg reports that the global tech giant is planning to rebrand the company with a new name that focuses on the metaverse.

Zuckerberg, who co-founded the social network in 2004, has said that the key to Facebook’s future lies with the metaverse concept — the idea that users will live, work and exercise inside a virtual universe.

“In the coming years, I expect people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a metaverse company,” Zuckerberg said in July. “In many ways the metaverse is the ultimate expression of social technology.”

The rebranding would come at a time when Facebook is under fire from regulators, lawmakers and activists.

Whistle-blower Frances Haugen has shared thousands of company documents with regulators and the Wall Street Journal. The documents detailed Facebook’s struggle with moderating its content and alleged deleterious mental health effects of its photo-sharing app Instagram.

Meanwhile, Facebook came under intense public criticism for practically forcing WhatsApp users to surrender their rights to privacy under a new WhatsApp privacy policy. Plus, recently, Facebook suffered a six-hour global outage that affected over 3.5 billion users of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Regulators expressed grave worry over Facebook’s single-point-of-failure network, which meant a hitch at one point affects users on all of its three platform. US regulators, in particular feared what implications that could have for the over 200 million business that use Facebook extensively.

Meanwhile, a Facebook spokesman declined to comment on the rebranding issue, saying the company doesn’t “comment on rumor or speculation”.

But the reports of the possible name change is also generating some debate on social as to what the new name could be. Suggestions on Twitter included simple ones like “FB” and a return to “The Facebook”.

The Verge, which first reported the issue, said the new name could have something to do with “Horizon” after a virtual reality platform the company has been developing.

“Meta” is another contender put forward by, among others, Samidh Chakrabarti, the company’s former civic integrity chief. The Web address meta.com currently redirects to meta.org, the home of a biomedical research discovery tool developed under the stewardship of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which is co-founded by the Facebook CEO.

That suggests Zuckerberg has a head-start on any other contender looking to secure the ultimate name for a metaverse firm.

The aim of the rebranding would be to reposition Facebook as a metaverse company, The Verge said, with the marquee apps and services like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp likely maintaining their branding under a new parent structure not unlike that practiced by Google and its parent Alphabet. Facebook declined to comment on the report.

Supporting the Meta idea are several factors: Silicon Valley firms favour brief domain names as a mark of prestige, with Alphabet calling abc.xyz home. Any company named Meta would also be able to lay claim to the term “metaverse” as its own rather than the generic descriptor it currently is.

In 2017, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative acquired a company called Meta that developed artificial intelligence technology for searching scientific papers. It now resides at meta.org. A separate augmented reality start-up with the same name was sold in 2019 to a buyer called Meta View, which planned to develop an AR headset. Its website is metavision.com.


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