Facebook has always been associated with their website of the same name. A website that not many people have positive things to say about it. Earlier this year the account details of over 500 million Facebookusers were leaked to the web by a group of hackers, demonstrating the company does not take their security very seriously. Facebook has also been accused of collecting large amounts of data from their users, ranging from kids that are well under the age of 13 to the misinformed adults that are said to plague the platform. This is why it did not come as a shock to many that the company Facebook wanted to change their name to something more fitting with their future goals and less about the website of which they originated. On October 28th 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced at their Facebook Connect conference that they had renamed themselves to “Meta”.
Facebook Connect used to be primarily a virtual reality showcase, hence the previous name “Oculus Connect”, the name of their line of VR headsets. Over time though, their shift in focus to other avenues such as augmented reality and what they are calling the Metaverse necessitated a name change of that as well. Facebook, who will now be referred to as Meta, is focusing less on the social media of today and is dropping billions of dollars on what they call the Metaverse of tomorrow.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, “The Metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet”. This is most likely similar to how our current “web 2.0” focused on user generated content is a successor to the previous “web 1.0” that had a heavy focus on static, “owned” content. The web has changed drastically before, so there’s no reason why it can’t make such a change once again. Zuckerbergwent on to say that it will focus on meeting with people as if they were really there, and not just through a computer screen. This will be through a combination of virtual reality and augmented reality tools and software, creating a seamless experience no matter the device it is used on. A person with a mobile AR headset could see a projection of a friend using a VR headset in their immediate environment, connecting the two on a level that previously was thought impossible. The future of the internet won’t just be static pages that we scroll through, but instead a world that exists simultaneously to our own.
Meta is quite clearly a different company from how we viewed them before. Previously they were a home for baby boomers posting about essential oils and politics. This shift in focus however gets across that Meta is a different company, now one that owns Facebook as well as their other apps such as Instagram and Whatsapp. A name change does not mean they’re starting off on an entirely clean slate however. Meta is still Facebook, and everything wrong with the website is something wrong with Meta. If Facebook has a data breach, Meta has a data breach. Meta needs to be held accountable for their actions the same way now as they ever were, possibly even closer now. Mark Zuckerberg said he wants the Metaverse to not be something owned by one company, but instead something that every company contributes to. That being said, nobody invests this much into anything without expecting a return. Meta might be the company to shape the internet as we know it into something entirely new, whether that is for the better or for worse is something that we will not know for quite some time.
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