Facebook Inc is now called Meta, the company said on Thursday, in a rebrand that focuses on building the "metaverse," a shared virtual environment that it bets will be the successor to the mobile internet.
The decision by Facebook to change its name to Meta reflects the company’s perceived growth opportunities beyond its namesake social-media platform.
Facebook wants the rebrand to show how Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is repositioning the tech company around the metaverse, which he sees as a key growth area that can also attract younger users.
“The next platform will be even more immersive — an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it. We call this the metaverse, and it will touch every product we build.” Zuckerberg said in a statement
“The defining quality of the metaverse will be a feeling of presence — like you are right there with another person or in another place. Feeling truly present with another person is the ultimate dream of social technology. This isn’t about spending more time on screens; it’s about making the time we already spend better” he added.
The Facebook boss emphasised, “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.”
Zuckerberg stated: “To reflect who we are and the future we hope to build, I’m proud to share that our company is now Meta.”
Mark Zuckerberg announced the new name as he unveiled plans to build a "metaverse" - an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, often using VR headsets.
The company also unveiled a new sign at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on Thursday, replacing its thumbs-up "Like" logo with a blue infinity shape.
"We're now looking at and reporting on our business as two different segments, one for our family of apps, and one for our work on future platforms.
"And as part of this, it is time for us to adopt a new company brand to encompass everything that we do, to reflect who we are and what we hope to build."
Zuckerberg said the new name, coming from the Greek word for "beyond," symbolised there was always more to build. He also said the new name reflects that over time, users will not need to use Facebook to use the company's other services.
The company, which has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality, said the change would bring together its different apps and technologies under one new brand. It said it would not change its corporate structure.
The tech giant, which reports about 2.9 billion monthly users, has faced increasing scrutiny in recent years from global lawmakers and regulators.
In the latest controversy, whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked documents which she said showed the company chose profit over user safety. Haugen has in recent weeks testified before a US Senate subcommittee and lawmakers in the UK's Parliament. Zuckerberg earlier this week said the documents were being used to paint a "false picture."
Facebook shares closed 1.5% higher at $316.92 on Thursday.
Facebook, which this year launched its own pair of smart glasses with Ray-Ban, announced a slew of new AR and VR product updates during Connect. These included a way for people using its Oculus VR headset to call friends using Facebook Messenger and for people to invite others to a social version of their home, dubbed "Horizon Home."
Zuckerberg also showed video demos of what the metaverse could look like, with people connecting as avatars and being transported to digital versions of various places and time periods. He said that the metaverse would need to be built with safety and privacy in mind.
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