Facebook has recently announced its shift to the brand title ‘Meta’, leaving many confused about what it means for the iconic blue app. However, do not fret, it is not the app that is changing, but the overarching company brand.
Founder, Mark Zuckerberg introduced the world to Meta during the Connect 2021 Conference in October. His decision for the change is based on the idea that “right now our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything we’re doing today, let alone in the future.”
Facebook, sorry, Meta… currently owns multiple apps including WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger as well as branching out to virtual reality in 2014 after buying Oculus. Although Meta’s main goal for growth will be to “bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses”, this brand move emerges after an era of scandal.
So, what is the metaverse and is it a genuine brand shift or simply a cover up?
What is the Metaverse?
The term ‘Metaverse’ was coined in 1992 in the sci-fi novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, a concept repeated in the 2011 novel, Ready Player One. Both books revolve around the creation of a virtual world that allows escapism from the horrors of everyday life. Zuckerberg’s metaverse attempts to do the same: create a virtual reality of luxury.
During Zuckerberg’s keynote speech, he introduced the different aspects of Meta that are currently in production. These include virtual social gatherings, virtual attendance of sports events, classrooms, VR gaming, fully immersive work meetings and the ability to buy virtual clothing and art (among many other things).
Is Meta a genuine career move or simply a PR stunt?
The shift emerges after the recent Facebook scandals, where a previous employee, turned whistleblower, Frances Haugen, exposed the dangers related to the social media platform.
Was the change in branding from ‘Facebook’ to ‘Meta’ in response to these allegations? According to Zuckerberg, no. The rebrand and expansion has been in the works for months now, with the original intention to always announce it at Connect 2021.
This is also not the first time a massive brand has altered its name. Notably, Google in 2015 rebranded to Alphabet to help ease investors and stockholders concerns about the brand.
So, although this is not an unprecedented brand strategy, it is remarkably convenient timing…
How safe is Meta?
There is concern over the safety of the metaverse, both surrounding data privacy, but also mental well-being. Although Meta has declared that “privacy and safety need to be built into the metaverse from day one” and released a statement about their wellness and safety partners, there are still concerns about privacy.
Facebook has been involved in many data-protection scandals in the past (notably the Cambridge Analytica breach in 2015), leading many to question the privacy that may be violated by increasing the amount of data collection within the home or workplace. Creating its own private platform also prevents accountability that Meta’s apps currently have through relying on Apple and Google.
Meta have released multiple statements about their increased privacy and greater user control over data settings. However, only time will tell how these play out.
What does all of this mean for your business?
Don’t worry, your perfectly curated Facebook group isn’t about to be swallowed up by the Metaverse any time soon!
But who knows, we may be looking at a time where Microsoft Teams are in the past and virtual reality meetings are the present!
If you want to find out more, please get in touch for a chat!