Facebook has a new name but the same old problems

Sign in front of Facebook headquarters gets Meta symbol to replace thumbs-up image.

Fb workers unveil a brand new brand and the title “Meta” on the register entrance of Fb headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Photos

Facebook’s iconic thumbs-up signal at its Menlo Park, California, headquarters now bears a blue infinity-shaped image together with a brand new title: Meta.

The company rebranding, unveiled on Thursday at Fb’s Join convention, is a part of Facebook’s headlong sprint into the metaverse, a digital atmosphere the place folks may work, play, be taught and socialize with each other. CEO Mark Zuckerberg referred to as the metaverse, which at this level is basically hypothetical, “the successor to the cellular web.”

In charging into the metaverse, nonetheless, Fb could also be repeating the practices that received it into hassle within the first place. The corporate’s former mantra — “Transfer quick and break issues” — inspired a tradition that rewarded new concepts with out cautious consideration of the dangers. The metaverse will create a wholly new atmosphere for Fb’s legacy issues to take root. 

Fb’s fast-charging angle has contributed to it racking up a seemingly infinite record of scandals round information privacy, hate speech and misinformation. It has been blamed for destroying democracy and for physique shaming. The corporate’s newest controversy, which entails leaked paperwork gathered by former Fb product supervisor Frances Haugen, has proved particularly damaging. Haugen alleges the corporate has misled the general public and buyers about its position in perpetuating hate speech, misinformation and different dangerous content material. 

Fb denies the accusations, noting that it has greater than 40,000 folks engaged on security and safety. About 3.58 billion folks use Fb and its providers each month.

Analysts say a intelligent rebranding will not assist Fb distance itself from its many issues. 

“A reputation change would not immediately erase the systemic points plaguing the corporate,” Forrester vp and analysis director Mike Proulx mentioned in an announcement. “If Meta would not handle its points past a defensive and superficial altitude, those self same points will occupy the metaverse.”

Forrester, which surveyed 745 folks throughout the US, Canada, and the UK, mentioned 75% of these polled disagreed {that a} new firm title will improve their belief in Fb.

The corporate says the rebranding is a refocusing of its company priorities. Based in 2004 in a Harvard dorm room, Fb has unfold past its roots as a social community. The tech big now has digital actuality headsets, good glasses and video chat gadgets. It is also dabbling in finance with its Novi cryptocurrency wallet

In the course of the Join keynote, Zuckerberg mentioned he is effectively conscious of the dangers that include getting into a brand new subject. Fb would not have an ideal observe document in the case of defending the privateness and security of its customers, and people points will not vanish within the metaverse.

“Each chapter brings new voices and new concepts but additionally new challenges, dangers and disruption of established pursuits,” he mentioned. “We’ll must work collectively, from the start, to carry the absolute best model of this future to life.”

A future utopia or dystopia?


Fb believes that sooner or later, we’ll give you the chance meet up with buddies within the “metaverse.” 


Zuckerberg’s presentation painted a hopeful imaginative and prescient of the metaverse, full of digital areas for folks to collect. Mates may fence utilizing digital swords, attend concert events from their houses or just work collectively in digital workplaces. 

However Fb may even must cope with the identical points it grapples with on social media, together with information privateness, safety, baby exploitation and content material moderation. Misinformation has been a widespread drawback on Fb’s namesake social community. Lies that unfold on the platform have been blamed for the Jan. 6 insurrection and hesitancy to get COVID vaccinations. 

That wasn’t misplaced on lawmakers, who’ve been finding out methods to manage the corporate and its Huge Tech friends. 

“Meta as in ‘we’re a most cancers to democracy metastasizing into a world surveillance and propaganda machine for reinforcing authoritarian regimes and destroying civil society… for revenue!'” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York.

Digital worlds existed lengthy earlier than Fb ramped up funding in VR and augmented actuality after its buy of headset maker Oculus in 2014. And the world of virtual reality already has a harassment drawback. In 2007, Belgian police have been wanting into whether or not an avatar allegedly raped one other character in Second Life, a digital world developed by Linden Lab, based on The Washington Post

Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, who will develop into the corporate’s new chief expertise officer in 2022, mentioned in a video chat earlier than the convention that muting one other consumer may assist give folks extra management over their environment in VR in the event that they’re being harassed. Fb can also be exploring concepts resembling permitting customers to share the final 10 to fifteen seconds of interplay with one other individual in VR with authorities. The corporate, although, must weigh the trade-offs between privateness and consumer security, a dilemma it has confronted earlier than with end-to-end encrypted chats on messaging apps.

One other subject that will pop up is the usage of avatars to impersonate others. One answer could possibly be tying the avatar to an authenticated account or verifying id in another approach.

A brand new title, nonetheless, will not assist Fb dodge its outdated issues. Lawmakers, celebrities and critics took swings at the company after its large reveal. 

“Altering their title would not change actuality: Fb is destroying our democracy and is the world’s main peddler of disinformation and hate,” mentioned the Actual Fb Oversight Board, a gaggle of well-known critics. “Their meaningless title change shouldn’t distract from the investigation, regulation and actual, unbiased oversight wanted to carry Fb accountable.” | Fb has a brand new title however the identical outdated issues


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