The tech giant known as Facebook will soon change its name to “Meta” to reflect all of its brands, but experts say the rebranding won’t make a difference with the problems that plague the platform.
After weeks of rumors about a name change, Facebook last week debuted its official new name as Meta, a nod to the shift it’s taking to its new metaverse. The company is certainly making big changes, but users may be left wondering if these changes will address the more significant issues at play when it comes to Facebook.
“Addressing such problems as mis- and disinformation, extremism, incitement to violence, and hateful speech will require more than a new name; it will require a rethinking of Facebook’s fundamental design and its engagement-driven advertising business model,” Paul Barrett, deputy director of the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, told Lifewire in an email.
Facebook Becomes Meta
Between data breaches, compromises in privacy, algorithms that control what we see and don’t see, and targeted ads that sometimes can be downright creepy, Facebook’s reputation hasn’t exactly been the best over the years.
However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company will have some new priorities in its future.
“From now on, we will be metaverse-first, not Facebook-first. That means that over time you won’t need a Facebook account to use our other services,” Zuckerberg wrote in his letter about the announcement.
“As our new brand starts showing up in our products, I hope people around the world come to know the Meta brand and the future we stand for.”
Zuckerberg explained that the metaverse will be like another world laid on top of the real one, calling it an “embodied Internet.”
Still, experts say it’s not that easy to forget all the problems users have come across on Facebook over the past decade.
“Zuckerberg and his lieutenants can’t shed the Facebook albatross with a clever brand adjustment,” Barrett said. “It’s past time for meaningful self-regulation combined with carefully designed government oversight.”
Facebook’s problems are probably enough for people to leave in masses (and people have in recent years). But Barrett said it’s important to note that Facebook and its other platforms have established connections across the world that would be difficult to cut ties with.
“Americans, broadly speaking, are growing weary of the endless series of episodes illustrating that Facebook is favoring growth and revenue generation over instituting necessary safeguards.”
“Facebook and its sister messaging services are popular all around the world, and in some countries [are] the main way people get access to the Internet,” he added.
Social Media in the Metaverse
So Facebook—er, Meta—is here to stay. But experts say it will have to do a lot more than change its name to cater to what users want in social media these days.
In a private study conducted by the social network Playsee, 86% of social media users indicated they want to see more authentic and less filtered content that closely reflects daily and real-life experiences on social media. The study also shows that 60% agree that social media is becoming more casual and less curated.
“With many leading social media platforms built upon algorithms that promote highly curated and polished content, the social experience becomes overwhelmingly the same,” Rachel Chang, senior director of brand and marketing at Playsee, told Lifewire in an email.
“Similarly themed feeds or content would be pushed and recommended, creating a limited space for other creators to break through the noise.”
Even so, other experts think Zuckerberg’s stake in the new metaverse could signal that social media as a whole is about to get its own rebranding and become a more immersive experience.
“It appears that Mark Zuckerberg expects social media—all social media—to gradually lose popularity,” Barrett said.
“That’s why he is investing so heavily in trying to make his company the leader in the new metaverse—an array of immersive technologies that are expected to go far beyond posting text and images on a common platform that amplifies that content.”
Barrett added that only time will tell if the metaverse model of social media can outshine the problems that need to be fixed.
“Americans, broadly speaking, are growing weary of the endless series of episodes illustrating that Facebook is favoring growth and revenue generation over instituting necessary safeguards,” he said.