The online platform Facebook itself and subsidiary services like Whatsapp and Instagram will keep their current names, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday. Meta will serve as an umbrella for all these offerings and more. "Our apps and their brands will not change," Zuckerberg said at an annual developer conference.
With the new name, Zuckerberg wants to focus on the new virtual environment "Metaverse," in which he sees the future of digital communication - and also of his company.
He also wants to lead the group more strongly out of the shadow of its original and so far most important platform Facebook. In addition to Instagram, the group also owns the chat apps WhatsApp and Messenger.
"We are now seen as a social media company, but at our core we are a company that connects people," Zuckerberg said. As a result, he said, the Facebook name could no longer reflect the group's full range of offerings.
Successor to the mobile Internet
According to the 37-year-old Facebook founder, the "Metaverse" will bring together physical and digital worlds. Zuckerberg is focusing on virtual reality (VR), in which users can immerse themselves in digital worlds with special glasses on their heads. The Facebook Group also owns the VR company Oculus.
However, the Facebook founder also sees so-called augmented reality (AR) as a "metaverse" component, in which digital content is superimposed on the real environment for the viewer on displays or with the help of projector glasses.
"We believe the Metaverse will be the successor to the mobile Internet," Zuckerberg emphasized. Facebook is expanding its virtual "Metaverse" worlds under the name Horizon.
Accusation of distraction
The online magazine The Verge had already reported last week that Facebook wanted to give itself a new name. The plans were immediately met with ridicule and criticism on the web. Facebook was accused of trying to distract from its problems with the renaming.
The Internet giant has been accused for some time of not taking sufficient action against the spread of hate messages and bullying on its platforms, violating the privacy of its users, serving as a loudspeaker for dangerous misinformation, and harming the well-being of young Internet users.
Most recently, revelations by whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen caused a stir. Haugen accuses her former employer of putting its own profits above the safety of its users and the common good. Facebook has firmly denied the accusations.
Google already sprinted ahead in 2015
Facebook is not the first Silicon Valley company to change its corporate name to signal that the company's focus has expanded. In 2015, for example, Google placed a new holding company called Alphabet over the group.
The Internet company wanted to signal that it not only operates a search engine and cloud business, but also has ambitions in driverless cars, healthcare solutions and other high-tech areas. However, almost all of Alphabet's revenue is still generated by Google, and the other companies only make losses on the bottom line. Google CEO Sundar Pichai is now also at the helm of Alphabet. (SDA)