By Zyad Zahra
After facing controversy about data piracy and using algorithms to show misinformation to susceptible people, Facebook has rebranded itself as Meta. Facebook is under a lot of turmoil because of all the surrounding controversy, and they want to be put out of the spotlight. Whistle-blower Frances Haugen talked about alleged harmful company claims and leaked internal documents in front of a Senate subcommittee. She is claiming Facebook is harming the people as a whole and is promoting division within political groups, all leading to a weakened democracy in the United States. The idea of rebranding does not originate from Facebook itself, and happens in many other forms in different companies. For example, companies merge, split, change their namesake or change how they are viewed. In Facebook’s case, the rebranding is very strategic because they want people to forget about the controversy and instead talk about the new ideas that Meta is endorsing. Facebook’s Metasphere is meant to be an online environment where people can interact with each other. This idea isn’t necessarily new, and has been implemented in many ways. Many games like VRChat use virtual environments to connect with other people in an online environment.
An important idea of the Meta rebrand is showing how Meta is another stepping stone into becoming a conglomerate. Facebook currently owns 78 companies, and some popular ones include Instagram, OculusVR, and WhatsApp. Over the past 15 years, Facebook has increased the amount of companies they hold, and the switch to Meta represents a final switch being clicked to support Facebook in its path to increase the things they control. Once Metaverse is more advanced and mainstream, it could be on the path to become a huge system that controls many aspects of people’s life. This is only if they could live up to the bold claims they make. Despite how many companies they own, Facebook is a social media company, and to make a sudden change into complex technology is not a simple plan. Even Mark Zuckerberg said himself that the technology will not be ready for nearly another ten years. It has shown to be obvious that this rebrand was unplanned and suddenly done in an effort to cast drama away from the company. Facebook already has many systems to spread information; they use advertising and media to spread ideas to people via social media. The introduction of Meta, something that will be a virtual reality that connects people with new ideas and people, can definitely be controlled by Facebook and advertisers. If Facebook wasn’t trying to become a conglomerate earlier, it absolutely is now. Facebook’s stock, or now Meta Platforms Inc., was on a steady incline this year until the whistleblower came out, but since then, the stock has been down.