Facebook is changing its corporate name to Meta as it faces widespread scrutiny over real-world damage allegedly caused by its various platforms after a whistleblower leaked hundreds of internal documents.
Founder Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that Facebook will change its corporate name to Meta, effectively demoting Facebook’s eponymous service to being just one of the company’s subsidiaries, along with Instagram and WhatsApp, rather than the overall brand.
The company formerly known as Facebook also said in a press release that it plans to begin trading under the stock symbol “MVRS” on Dec. 1.
A rebranding could be part of an effort to repair Facebook’s reputation and turn the page after a series of public relations nightmares, including misinformation on its platforms, content moderation failures, and revelations about the negative effect its products have on some users’ mental health.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about our identity as we begin this next chapter. Facebook is one of the most widely used products in the history of the world,” Zuckerberg said on Thursday. “It’s an iconic social networking brand, but increasingly, it just doesn’t encompass everything we do.”
“Today we’re seen as a social networking company,” he added, “but in our DNA, we’re a company that creates technology to connect people. And the metaverse is the next frontier, just like social networking was when we started.”
Zuckerberg, who said he loved studying classics in school, said the name was inspired by the Greek word meta, meaning “beyond.” “To me, it symbolizes that there’s always more to build.”
Facebook did not announce any executive changes Thursday. But on Zuckerberg’s personal Facebook page, his job title was changed to, “Founder and CEO of Meta.”
Zuckerberg kicked off the event the line by introducing a series of new social, gaming, and workplace concepts for the metaverse, acknowledging how focusing on such products might be perceived amid the company’s newfound crisis.
“I know some people will say this is not the time to focus on the future, and I want to acknowledge that there are important issues to work on in the present. There always will be,” Zuckerberg said in a video presentation. before his keynote. “So for many people, I’m not sure there’s ever a good time to focus on the future. But I also know there are many of you who feel the same way I do.”
“We live for what we’re building,” Zuckerberg added. “And while we make mistakes, we continue to learn, build and move forward.”
Facebook showed a series of concept videos that highlighted its vision of the metaverse, showing how you could, for example, send your holographic image to a concert to meet your friend attending in real life, sit around a table during a virtual meeting with remote colleagues or play immersive games with friends. Facebook recently said it would hire 10,000 people in Europe to develop the concept.
Zuckerberg also announced Messenger calls coming to virtual reality, his plans to operate a virtual marketplace where developers can sell virtual goods and a new home screen in Oculus Quest to make chatting and gaming in the virtual world more social.
“Your devices will no longer be the focal point of your attention,” he said. “We’re starting to see a lot of these technologies materialize in the next five to 10 years. A lot of this will be mainstream and many of us will create and inhabit worlds that are as detailed and compelling as this on a daily basis.”
Several major companies have changed their established brands over the years. Kentucky Fried Chicken shortened its name to KFC, the Japanese car brand Datsun became Nissan. Some high-profile name changes have followed scandals or controversies. Philip Morris, the maker of Marlboro, changed its name to Altria, for example, and ValuJet became AirTran after one of its planes crashed in 1996.
Other name changes are meant to reflect broader company ambitions. Snapchat changed its name to Snap in 2016 to reflect its foray into hardware, and Google restructured the company with a new name, Alphabet, and plans to grow a variety of business divisions.