Meta: new Facebook name, rumors, and future

Meta: new Facebook name, rumors, and future

Recently, the Facebook company has changed its name to Meta. The social network Facebook retains its name. In this article, we try to understand why Facebook did the rebranding and what will it change.

What does the new Facebook name mean?

Mark Zuckerberg announced the renaming Oct. 28 at the Facebook Connect 2021 event. According to him, the idea for the name came from the novel "Snow Crash" by American science fiction writer Neal Stephenson. In that book, the world of the future is presented as a society controlled by large corporations and united by a common virtual three-dimensional space. The novel has had a great influence on digital culture: for example, the term "avatar" became popular primarily because of this book; "Snow Crash" predetermined the concepts of many experimental models of virtual reality.  

The preparations for the rebranding were kept secret for six months. Zuckerberg said that the need to change the company's name was long overdue: "I think that there was just a lot of confusion and awkwardness about having the company brand be also the brand of one of the social media apps."

What will the Meta be like?

The company intends to invest up to $10 billion this year alone in the creation of a new reality model, but there's not much concrete information about what this new space will look like.  A unified system of accounts (represented by virtual avatars) will be introduced, covering all of the company's social applications and supported devices. 

The main gadget providing a person's presence in virtual reality could be Oculus Quest, a virtual reality helmet being developed by Oculus VR, also part of Meta. The newest model, Oculus Quest 2 was unveiled in September 2020 at the Facebook Connect conference. This helmet is equipped with 4 cameras that help the user navigate in space. The helmet runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 chip and has 6GB of RAM and a 2K resolution LCD screen per eye. Already, Oculus Quest 2 allows you to play supported video games in three-dimensional space, as well as work in individual applications, including working together with other users with similar hardware. In addition to Internet access, it requires a Facebook account and a smartphone with the free Oculus app. 

oculus metaverse
© Ius Vinicius – Unsplash.com

It is expected that a Horizon Home space will soon be added to the app, in which users can meet, watch videos and play multiplayer games together. The new Metaverse will likely build on Horizon Home and other Oculus virtual spaces such as Horizon Workrooms and Horizon Venues.

What do critics say about Meta?

Facebook has been repeatedly criticized in recent years for possible misuse of account holders' personal information and leaks of their data. According to Zuckerberg, the renaming has nothing to do with the negative information that has accumulated around the Facebook brand.

"Mark Zuckerberg envisioned a Metaverse as a shared, trusted virtual world (...) where people can play virtual games, attend virtual concerts, store online, collect virtual art, communicate through virtual avatars and work together in virtual workspaces", summary of Meta by The New York Times columnist and asks will it all come true?

"It's impossible to say for sure, of course, but I'm personally skeptical that Facebook - that unwieldy bureaucratic machine whose biggest achievements over the past decade have mostly involved buying competing apps or copying their features rather than developing its own ideas within the company - will create an exciting digital universe in which people actually want to spend their time". The Guardian notes: "The Wikipedia page "Criticism of Facebook" has a forbiddingly long contents list, including entries on tax avoidance and copyright violation, right through to traumatising its employees and allowing the publication of content that denies various genocides. Founder Mark Zuckerberg and his company have been busy trying to revamp its image, particularly in the wake of the platform's Cambridge Analytica scandal".

A public survey of Americans conducted by Morning Consult shows that 68% of adult participants in the survey said they were not interested in using Zuckerberg's Metaverse - based on what they know so far about the project. At the same time, 25% of the adult participants in the survey said they had a positive view of Meta, while 40% expressed a negative opinion (about a third, 34%, said they had no opinion). 56% of so-called Generation Z (people born between 1997 and 2012) said they were not interested in the project, while the remaining 44% expressed interest in the Metaverse. It is logical to assume that the corporation under Zuckerberg's leadership is primarily aimed at arousing the sympathy and interest of young people, who are increasingly entering the world of digital technology at a very early age. 

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