A Desperate Move To Rebrand Facebook – Here’s The Toxic Reason Zuckerberg Changed Its Name To “Meta”

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Nov 01 2021
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Facebook is now known as Meta in a rebranding exercise to reflect its expansion into the metaverse, something that exists only in science-fiction books or movies like “The Matrix”. Effectively, Facebook Inc. – the parent company of WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus – is called Meta Platforms Inc. The company is moving towards augmented reality and virtual reality.


Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, said – “Over time, I hope that we will be seen as a metaverse company. And I want to anchor identity on what we’re building towards”. The billionaire said he liked Meta because it’s a Greek word that “symbolizes there’s always more to build”. In Greek, Meta means beyond or after.


Interestingly, Meta was also the name of a start-up acquired by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative that used AI (artificial intelligence) to aggregate scientific research. Essentially, the metaverse is the next generation of internet, where people interact with virtual versions of real people, places and stores as if they were physically there – without leaving home.

Facebook Changed Name Rebrand To Meta

Whether the metaverse will succeed or not is everyone’s guess. But companies like Fortnite, Roblox and Razer are some of the powerful players in building the metaverse through multiplayer games. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said in 2016 – “If one company gains control of this, they will become more powerful than any government and be a God on Earth.”


However, Zuckerberg’s announcement of a name change to Meta has raised eyebrows, and some have even mocked and ridiculed the new name. In Israel, Meta sounds like the Hebrew word for “Dead”. Hence, Meta could mean a new game changer to Facebook, or the beginning of the death of Facebook. There’s nothing strange about a name change though.


Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that Apple was dropping the word “Computer” from its name to become “Apple Inc.” in 2007 in a move to enter the market of home devices and phones. Google had made a similar move in 2015, creating a new parent company called Alphabet Inc. to separate all the businesses and to define the scope of business of Google.

Apple iPhone 2007 - Steve Jobs

Likewise, in 2018, Dunkin’ dropped the Donuts from its name to reflect its increasing focus on coffee and other drinks as well as sandwiches. Starbucks, the world’s largest chain of coffee shops, ditched the word “Coffee” from its logo in 2011 to indicate its desire to move beyond its core product. It was considering selling beer and wine at some U.S. outlets. However, rebranding is no guarantee for success.


Radio Shack tried to rebrand as “The Shack” in 2009 as the electronics retailer tried to stem a long decline. It thought it could create a new perspective by getting rid of the old-fashioned term “Radio”. But “The Shack” rebranding exercise was meaningless as the American retailer founded in 1921 was still selling the same old products. Some six years later, the company went belly up.


Tribune Publishing practically threw away its 150-year-old name in 2016 when it rebranded itself with a ridiculous name – “Tronc Inc.” (short for Tribune Online Content). After two years of being ridiculed and insulted, the media company that owns the Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News was forced to revert back to its original name in 2018.

Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen

Not many people believe Facebook’s sudden name change has to do with its new expansion into the metaverse territory. It came after whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former election integrity product manager at Facebook, testified before the U.S. Senate on October 5 that Facebook’s products “harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy”.


As the whistleblower behind the leak of a cache of internal Facebook documents, Haugen has claimed that Facebook puts profits over people. She said – “Facebook has been unwilling to accept even a little sliver of profit being sacrificed for safety”, arguing that Facebook should hire 10,000 extra engineers to work on safety instead of 10,000 engineers to build the “metaverse.”


Haugen testified – “During my time at Facebook, I came to realize a devastating truth: Almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside Facebook. The company intentionally hides vital information from the public, from the U.S. government, and from governments around the world. The result has been more division, more harm, more lies, more threats and more combat.”

Instagram Harmful To Teen Girls

She has also leaked one Facebook study that found  13.5% of the U.K. teen girls in a survey say their suicidal thoughts became more frequent after starting Instagram. Another leaked study found 17% of teen girls say their eating disorders got worse after using Instagram. And a whopping 32% of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.


In fact, the 37-year-old former employee of Facebook said the company’s  own research found Instagram was more dangerous than other social media such as TikTok and Snapchat because the platform is focused on “social comparison about bodies, about people’s lifestyles, and that’s what ends up being worse for kids”.


Worse, the latest scandal has exposed how Facebook practises discrimination with rules that favours elites, how its algorithms foster discord, and how drug cartels and human traffickers openly use the social media services. But Zuckerberg only hired a small team to detect the practice of slavery, forced prostitution and organ selling.

The Greed of Facebook - Mark Zuckerberg - Magazine

Before Haugen left the social network, she copied thousands of pages of confidential documents and shared them with lawmakers, regulators and The Wall Street Journal, which published a series of reports called the Facebook Files. While Facebook has accused Haugen of stealing documents, her attorneys said Facebook violated U.S. securities laws by lying to investors.


Previous scandals, including Facebook’s role in Russian alleged attempts to influence the 2016 election and the social network’s user data breach in the Cambridge Analytica case, which saw the technology giant fined US$5 billion, were some of crises that plagued the company. But the latest scandal could be deadlier because Haugen was an insider, having worked for 2 years in Facebook.


Obviously, the name change certainly looks like Facebook is trying to divert attention away from the trove of negative stories hanging around the company. It’s not rocket science that Facebook brand has become increasingly toxic. Besides, metaverse or virtual reality isn’t the main revenue contributor. To have a new name totally unrelated to Facebook’s main revenue is both strange and silly.

Facebook Make Money

Mark Zuckerberg is synonymous with social media Facebook and Instagram, both of which generate almost all the revenue, which in turn is taking a hit after the leaked documents showed how greedy the founder was. In the same breath, can the company be trusted over its claims that WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption so that nobody in between, not even WhatsApp, can read or listen to what is sent?


The simple fact that the company is ready to trade off its stock ticker to “MVRS” from the well recognizable “FB” effective on December 1 speaks volumes about Facebook’s desperation to do everything to repair its reputation. Heck, even its iconic corporate sign – a “thumbs up” – is being replaced with a blue infinity sign. Didn’t they teach at Harvard that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?


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