Facebook’s name change plan is a reflection of its real priorities

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Facebook’s plan to change its firm name, as first reported by The Verge, comes at a peculiar time. The almost $1 trillion firm that owns Instagram and WhatsApp is going through its greatest scandal in years over damning inside paperwork leaked by a whistleblower, in addition to mounting antitrust scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators.

So what’s actually happening? Is the name change meant to be a distraction from its larger issues? An indication of extra firm adjustments to come back? And when did Facebook first give you this concept?

There’s nonetheless a lot we don’t know, together with what precisely Facebook’s new company name shall be. The Verge indicated it would connect with the corporate’s concentrate on the “metaverse,” a growing digital platform enhanced by augmented and digital actuality the place individuals work together by way of digital avatars.

“We don’t comment on rumor or speculation.” stated Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne in response to Recode’s questions in regards to the firm.

But one factor this rebrand makes clear is that regardless of the huge challenges Facebook is going through, it isn’t slowing down or staying in a defensive crouch. It nonetheless has its sights set on increasing its domination and world-building, which is what it’s attempting to attain with its metaverse plans.

Rather than asserting critical reforms in response to the whistleblower’s revelations, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made no apologies. Instead, he and his firm have dismissed the whistleblower’s complaints and proof, and are plowing forward with a longstanding plan to show the science-fiction idea of a metaverse into a enterprise actuality.

For Facebook, this isn’t a new concept. Zuckerberg sees the metaverse as the following section of main technological innovation akin to the invention of the web or cell phones.

The CEO instructed journalist Casey Newton in March that Facebook shall be a metaverse firm — not a social media firm — within the subsequent 5 years. The firm not too long ago introduced 10,000 new hires within the EU who will work on the metaverse. And this reported name change exhibits that Zuckerberg will reorient the whole Facebook model round it. The name change might additionally assist Facebook distance itself from the bags related to its most important product because it builds out its shiny new metaverse-related merchandise, like Oculus headsets and different AR/VR wearable gadgets.

Some Facebook critics have argued that a splashy new name serves as a handy media distraction from the deeper points at hand — evaluating the technique to that of tobacco big Philip Morris altering its name to Altria in 2001 or British Petroleum to BP Amoco within the late ’90s after which BP in 2001.

“Faced with a tsunami of evidence of irresponsible behavior and possible criminal violations, Facebook is desperate to change the subject,” Roger McNamee, an early investor within the firm who has grow to be one of the corporate’s most vocal critics, instructed Recode. “Journalists and policymakers need to remain focused on the crime scene, not the arm-waving.”

Usually, company name adjustments for a firm of Facebook’s measurement require long-term planning and strategizing, so it appears unlikely that the corporate got here up with the concept in a single day — though it’s believable that current occasions might have sped up a choice already within the works. Facebook has struggled with its model’s attraction since lengthy earlier than the Haugen testimony.

And to date, the reported name change is solely prompting extra scrutiny and is seeming to impress some legislators’ ire, equivalent to Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Blackburn co-chairs the influential bipartisan Senate Commerce subcommittee that has been main an investigation into the current whistleblower’s claims; she tweeted on Wednesday that Facebook altering its name “doesn’t make a difference until they change their habits of prioritizing profit over the well-being of children.”

As the world waits to be taught extra about Facebook’s rebrand, a key element to look at for is whether or not there shall be precise structural change to the corporate. When Google restructured its enterprise strains beneath the umbrella of Alphabet in 2015, it was meant partly to let co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin take a step again from the corporate’s search enterprise and as an alternative concentrate on its extra experimental improvements. While Zuckerberg has given no indication he plans to do the identical, individuals shall be watching to see if any form of organizational or management change comes with this rebrand.

In the meantime, these reported plans sign that regardless of the reputational hits it’s coping with, Facebook gained’t be deterred from pursuing its enterprise targets. Despite all its public scandals, the corporate is nonetheless wildly financially profitable, raking in tens of billions in income every quarter. And whereas Facebook’s shares took a notable 5 % dip shortly after the whistleblower went public and an uncommon community outage, the worth is already bouncing again, and analysts anticipate one other robust earnings report subsequent week. That success appears to offer Zuckerberg a mandate to additional his formidable agenda — which proper now doesn’t appear to be fixing Facebook’s messy actuality as we speak, however constructing out a entire new one for tomorrow.

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