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Facebook, Inc. announced that it would change its company name to Meta Platforms, Inc. (or Meta for short). However, a change of name isn’t the only thing the company announced.
Alongside the rebranding, Mark Zuckerberg also announced that Meta will now mainly focus on creating the so-called “metaverse” during this year’s Facebook Connect conference, which the company held to showcase new technologies.
To Zuckerberg and Meta, this name change represents what the company will focus and work on for the upcoming years – but what is that exactly?
What’s the Metaverse?
Even though the name seems to come out of a comic book, the metaverse has existed for longer than you might think. Fun fact, this term was first used in the novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson in 1992.
The metaverse is a form of experiencing the internet in augmented reality or virtual reality. It helps users immerse themselves in the web at a deeper level.
A good example of what the metaverse would be like is the game VR Chat, which is more of an online experience where you can play and interact with people all over the world with a VR headset.
As for Meta’s plans for the metaverse, we’re not exactly sure everything we can expect. As of right now, it’s more of an idea that Zuckerberg and Meta are working toward.
Meta says that it will now focus on bringing the metaverse to life and “help people connect, find communities and grow businesses.” One of the first examples we’ve seen from meta is how you’ll be able to be “physically” present in an online meeting. Moreover, you’ll also be able to study, play games and even go to work using the metaverse.
How would that work? Well, Meta’s working on new virtual and augmented reality gear that’ll help you be part of the metaverse. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in a digital 3D environment where you’ll be able to interact with other people and virtual objects to work or have fun.
Why the Name Change?
Facebook basically decided to change its name to Meta to show how committed it is to the metaverse. Moreover, Facebook wanted to separate itself from social media in order to become a metaverse company.
We will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.Mark Zuckerberg, The Verge
Other people speculate that Facebook wanted to change its name to keep the problems and controversies in the past. Facebook has been through many legal and security-related problems, and this might be a way to “hide” these issues in the future.
Whatever the reason may be, it is true that Meta is investing heavily in the metaverse. Earlier this year, it was reported that the company had hired over 1,000 employees to work on the metaverse. Moreover, during this year’s Connect conference, it was announced that the company would invest $150 million in immersive learning to train the next generation of creators.
Meta’s Already Met with Legal Problems
Not long after Facebook announced the name change, the Meta Company, a company unrelated to Facebook, said it would file legal actions because of the new name. According to Nate Skulic, founder of the Meta Company, Facebook’s lawyers tried to acquire the company name multiple times without telling them it was actually Facebook behind the curtains.
Skulic said they turned the offers down, mostly because their offer was so low it wouldn’t even cover the costs of changing the Meta Company’s name.
According to Skulic, on October 20, Facebook attorneys finally said they would respect their existing rights and registration. Later, as we now know, Facebook continued to announce it would change its name to Meta.
Based on these actions, the Meta Company announced that it proceeded to file “the necessary legal actions” for trademark infringement against the company now known as Meta.
The Problems with the Metaverse
Although it’s too early to tell, there already are a couple of problems that might come from the metaverse, other than the Black Mirror feel.
Starting with social media. Sure, it’s great that you’ll be able to see your favorite memes in front of your face, but Facebook, the social media app, and Instagram are already under fire for affecting their users’ mental health. Wouldn’t a more immersive 3D environment increase these issues?
Another thing we need to see is how Meta will handle advertising. Facebook and Instagram both rely heavily on ads to provide their service for free. If the metaverse is also going to be “free,” does that mean you’ll have to watch ads before you can even join a meeting?
Also, if you’ve seen or played VR Chat, you know how people tend to react when they’re left alone online. Of course, it’s not everyone, but VR Chat has the potential to become a lawless land. Meta needs to figure out a way to avoid people being, well, people.