META. The Facebook group will change its name to be called Meta, the services and technologies remaining unchanged. A way to prepare the evolution towards the metaverse, but also to change the brand image of the social network…
New name, new logo: Thursday, October 28, on the occasion of Facebook Connect – an event dedicated to virtual reality and augmented reality – Mark Zuckerberg announced in a video intervention that the Facebook group would soon change its identity to now be called Meta. Let’s be clear, for users, this change is of no importance since all the services and products of the American giant (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, Portal, Oculus…) will keep their usual name and their functions. We will just see, here and there over the screens, allusions to the new entity (Facebook by Meta, for example). So what is this new new identity really for?
First of all, the name change will make it possible to better distinguish the group from its products and services. There will thus be no more confusion between the Facebook group and the Facebook social network. The company is not the first to change its identity for this purpose: Google, the other Internet giant, did so in 2015 by becoming Alphabet.“It is time for us to adopt a new corporate name to encompass all of our activities”explained Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of the Californian firm which has gradually diversified its activities with the Instagram social network, WhatsApp instant messaging, Portal connected cameras and Oculus virtual reality devices.
Then, and above all, Meta prepares the ground and the spirits for the great mutation of the group towards the famous metaverse – or metaverse – imagined and presented by Zuckerberg (see our article). A futuristic concept – smoky for some – which would encompass social networks, communication tools and virtual and augmented reality technologies so that everyone can evolve in a parallel digital world in the form of an avatar. A digital universe that would combine real and virtual to offer a “Internet Embodied” create“millions of new jobs”…and generate billions in profits. It is to illustrate this ambitious vision that the band chose a logo in the shape of a 3D loop and an evocative name – meta meaning “beyond”, in Greek.
Zuckerberg’s announcement obviously sparked a lot of reactions in the real world. Many have mocked the name, especially on French social networks where we have seen “meta cagoule” and other more or less funny puns flourish, but also in the American press, as in this article from The Verge where the editorialist had fun imagining the new acronym that could replace the famous Gafa (for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) with anagrams such as MAGMA, GAMMA, MATMAN, MANTA, or even ANTMAN, by integrating Netflix and Meta .
Above all, critical minds have not failed to point out that this communication exercise comes at a critical time when the Facebook group finds itself entangled in a series of media controversies and legal investigations questioning its practices. Three years after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the American company has indeed had to face for several weeks the accusations of Frances Haugen, whistleblower, engineer and former employee of the group, who reveals, supporting documents, behind the scenes unsavory from the house of Zuckerberg, who does not hesitate to shove inglorious reports under the rug (see our article on addictions linked to Instagram). Which Zuckerberg who wisely declares to learn from the past. “The last few years have given me many lessons in humility. (…) It is always important to move forward and keep trying to create what the future is”, thus admitted the philosopher of Menlo Park. While adding: “I understand that there are probably a lot of people who will say now is not the time to focus on the future.” Unless the future looks like a headlong rush.