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  • Rovindu Ambagolla

Digital Friday >>> Why Facebook Changed its Name to Meta

Picture by: Brett Jordan

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and current CEO of Facebook, has made a startling revelation this week. He announced that Facebook and the applications under it like Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus VR are officially going to be branched under the name "Meta". However, the question that persists is why the company has taken this drastic step to re-brand themselves?

“Meta”, is short for “Metaverse” and this is what Zuckerberg thinks is the next evolution of the internet and human connectivity. The Metaverse is in essence a virtual world where people can interact with each other through VR technology and through uniquely designed avatars. He commented, “By the end of the decade, or even by the middle of the decade, I would guess that we’re going to reach a point where our VR (virtual reality) devices will start to be clearly better for almost every use case than our laptops and computers are”. The Metaverse was introduced by Zuckerberg as a virtual utopia for people to spend time on and he has invested billions of dollars in the technology to make his vision of the future a reality. Or shall we say, a virtual reality.

Picture by: Minh Pham

The company “Meta” is going to be split into two fragments. One half of the company will be focusing on the traditional applications such as Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The other half will be completely dedicated to constructing and maintaining the Metaverse and it will be overseen by Facebook’s Reality Labs. Zuckerberg is determined to construct this virtual world, and the company is set to invest almost $10 billion into the project whilst also doubling its workforce to 20,000 engineers.

The company has been developing the idea for a while now, but many are confused as to why the announcement was made so soon, when the technology still has a long way to go before being remotely close to what it is being envisioned as. Many speculate that it was strategically conducted to take some attention away from the heat Facebook was facing after thousands of documents and internal research was leaked by former employee, Frances Haugen. Haugen is a data scientist who proved that Facebook’s algorithms are designed to promote hateful content because it keeps users engaged for longer and makes the company more ad revenue. The leaked documents of internal research prove how Facebook was aware of these matters and how little they were doing to combat it.

This raises the question of how qualified a company like Facebook is to handle the abundance of data that they will be able to gather through the Metaverse. Zuckerberg stressed that he knows how important user privacy is, commenting “privacy and safety need to be built into the Metaverse from day one”. The success of the Metaverse depends on how much you will take his word for it.

November 5th 2021 | 7:54 am

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