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Facebook Rebranding: What Could Be Its Possible Domain Name?

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Facebook Rebranding – it’s all over the news!

With over 2.89 billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2021, Facebook is the biggest social network worldwide.

It is a name that’s become entirely too familiar all over the world.

However, the latest reports reveal that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is planning to rebrand the company with a brand-new name in the coming weeks.

Facebook’s founder and chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, is preparing to talk about the name change at a company event next week, but it could be unveiled sooner, reported the Verge, a US tech news website.

Under the plans, the rebrand would cast the Facebook app as just one of many products under a parent company which would also oversee other Facebook-owned properties like WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus, and Giphy.

This possible move mirrors what Google did back in 2015 when it reorganized under holding company Alphabet to recognize the fact that it had expanded from being a search engine to a company with a variety of projects under its umbrella, The Verge noted.

According to The Verge, this rebrand – which could happen at the annual AR/VR-focused Facebook Connect conference on October 28 – could be related to the company’s ongoing efforts to build out the “metaverse”, defined by Facebook as a “set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you”.

With Facebook Rebranding What Could Be Its Possible Domain Name?

With the announcement of a possible name change, jokey speculation about what the social media giant’s new domain name might be running rampant – ranging from “Zuckussy”, “Facey McBookface”, “Instabook”, “Poke” to “BookFace”.

However, a more serious suggestion – though still a guess – has emerged, this time from Samidh Chakrabarti who has some credibility given that he previously worked as Facebook’s civic integrity chief.

Chakrabarti wrote on Twitter, “My best guess for the new name: ‘Meta’.”

“Meta” would make branding sense, especially given The Verge’s report that the name change is intended to reestablish Facebook as a key player in the “metaverse,” which is founder Mark Zuckerberg’s preferred term for the trendy idea that augmented reality technology is soon going to create layers of visual content over everyday life.

Focusing on the “Metaverse”

What does the “metaverse” mean, exactly?

This week, Facebook announced that it was looking to hire around 10,000 employees across Europe to create the multi-modal computing platform that would be the foundation for the “metaverse”. In this case, the metaverse refers to an interconnected medium of virtual experiences brokered through technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality.

An excerpt from the announcement describes what exactly the “metaverse” is:

“Facebook is at the start of a journey to help build the next computing platform. Working with others, we’re developing what is often referred to as the metaverse — a new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality. At its heart is the idea that by creating a greater sense of “virtual presence”, interacting online can become much closer to the experience of interacting in person. The metaverse has the potential to help unlock access to new creative, social, and economic opportunities. And Europeans will be shaping it right from the start.

No one company will own and operate the metaverse. Like the internet, its key feature will be its openness and interoperability. Bringing this to life will take collaboration and cooperation across companies, developers, creators, and policymakers. For Facebook, it will also require continued investment in product and tech talent, as well as growth across the business.”

Back in July, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge that they aimed to “effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company”. He elaborates that he sees the metaverse as “a big part of the next chapter for the way that the internet evolves after the mobile internet”.  

He further explains:

“The metaverse is a vision that spans many companies — the whole industry. You can think about it as the successor to the mobile internet. And it’s certainly not something that anyone company is going to build, but I think a big part of our next chapter is going to hopefully be contributing to building that, in partnership with a lot of other companies and creators and developers.

But, you can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it. And you feel present with other people as if you were in other places, having different experiences that you couldn’t necessarily do on a 2D app or webpage, like dancing, for example, or different types of fitness.

I think a lot of people when they think about the metaverse, think about just virtual reality — which I think is going to be an important part of that. And that’s clearly a part that we’re very invested in because it’s the technology that delivers the clearest form of presence. But the metaverse isn’t just virtual reality. It’s going to be accessible across all of our different computing platforms; VR and AR, but also PC, and also mobile devices, and game consoles.

Speaking of which, a lot of people also think about the metaverse as primarily something that’s about gaming. And I think entertainment is clearly going to be a big part of it, but I don’t think that this is just gaming. I think that this is a persistent, synchronous environment where we can be together, which I think is probably going to resemble some kind of a hybrid between the social platforms that we see today, but an environment where you’re embodied in it.

So that can be 3D — it doesn’t have to be. You might be able to jump into an experience, like a 3D concert or something, from your phone, so you can get elements that are 2D or elements that are 3D. I’d love to go through a bunch of the use cases in more detail, but overall, I think that this is going to be a really big part of the next chapter for the technology industry, and it’s something that we’re very excited about.

It just touches on a lot of the biggest themes that we’re working on. Think about things like community and creators as one, or digital commerce as a second, or building out the next set of computing platforms, like virtual and augmented reality, to give people that sense of presence. I think all of these different initiatives that we have at Facebook today will basically ladder up together to contribute to helping to build this metaverse vision.

And my hope, if we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company. And obviously, all of the work that we’re doing across the apps that people use today contribute directly to this vision in terms of building community and creators. So, there’s a lot to jump into here. I’m curious what direction you want to take this in. But this is something that I’m spending a lot of time on, thinking a lot about, we’re working on a ton. And I think it’s just a big part of the next chapter for the work that we’re going to do in the whole industry.”

Enter the Metaverse

The metaverse is something Facebook has been hyping up for a while now. It all began when Facebook purchased VR tech company Oculus in 2014. Input wrote recently that Facebook likely bought that company because they believed that virtual reality would become one of the main ways we interacted with each other online.

Earlier this summer, Facebook introduced “Horizon Workrooms” through Oculus, responding to the trend of changing workspaces as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oculus products would be a key product in the metaverse, a loosely defined concept that involves people leading their social and professional lives and interacting with other people via VR headsets and through augmented reality, where a digital layer is placed on top of real life, as in the popular Pokémon Go game.

“More people are working remotely, more people want flexible work options, and more people are re-thinking what it means to be in an office,” Facebook said in a statement. “Workrooms is our flagship collaboration experience that lets people come together to work in the same virtual room. It works across both virtual reality and the web and is designed to improve your team’s ability to collaborate, communicate, and connect remotely, through the power of VR.”

At the start of September, the rebranding announcement on Facebook was going to invest $50 million to research and develop metaverse-related products that could connect augmented and virtual reality with consumer hardware, which would lead to new ways for people to connect with others. “It’s not necessarily about spending more time online — it’s about making the time you do spend online more meaningful,” Facebook wrote. “Many of these products will only be fully realized in the next 10 – 15 years.”

Furthermore, Facebook AI just recently unveiled a new project called Ego4D, which has captured thousands of hours of first-person videos with the goal of teaching artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistants to remember and recall events (like where you left your keys), predict what you might do next and give appropriate prompts or warnings (you’ve already added salt to this soup), guide you on how to do tasks (like how to play the drums), record and categorize audio and visuals, and improve social interactions (by picking up on what your friend said in a loud restaurant). These AI assistants would then support users in AR and VR settings, and will likely be a part of the connective tissue in the metaverse.

Connecting the World

Part of the vision for establishing the metaverse is based on the goal that Facebook has to “network together with the world”.

However, these visions don’t come cheap. For example, take the tech that needs to be purchased to embed into the metaverse: Facebook’s Ray-Bans are around $299 each, and the Oculus Quest 2 starts at $299.

An Escape?

On one hand, while a rebrand could separate the future tech Facebook is working on from the way its social platforms operate today, as The Verge pointed out, Facebook’s current practices and reputation makes many heavily skeptical that they will be able to protect users from harm in these experimental spaces. Several lawmakers are actively trying to break up Facebook, claiming that it is a monopoly that harms consumers. The recent whistleblower testimony in Congress has made it abundantly clear that Facebook has historically prioritized profit over the safety of the people using its platform.

A former employee turned whistleblower, Frances Haugen, recently leaked a trove of damning internal documents to The Wall Street Journal and testified about them before Congress. Antitrust regulators in the US and elsewhere are trying to break the company up, and public trust in how Facebook does business is falling.

Whistleblower Frances Haugen said Facebook has “repeatedly” misled the public about “what its own research reveals about the safety of children and the efficacy of its artificial intelligence systems as a role in spreading divisive and extreme messages.”

Haugen also called on Congress to take regulatory action to change Facebook’s business incentives to amplify harmful content to its users. She also encouraged lawmakers to push for further transparency into the company to tackle its “closed design.”

“It is unaccountable until the incentives change,” Haugen said. “Facebook will not change.”

But she also showed optimism that the problem can be solved if the government intervenes. “These problems are solvable. A safer, free-speech-respecting social media is possible,” Haugen said. “Facebook can change, but it’s clearly not going to do so on its own.”

Outside of Facebook’s business model, Haugen also identified several structural issues that make it more difficult for the company to react to scandals. “Facebook is stuck in a cycle where it struggles to hire. That causes it to understaff projects, which causes scandals, which then makes it harder to hire,” Haugen said.

“A pattern of behavior I saw at Facebook was that often problems were so understaffed that there was an implicit discouragement from having better detection systems. So for example, I worked on the counterespionage team, and at any given time, our team could only handle a third of the cases we knew about. We knew that if we built even a basic detector, we would likely have even more cases.”

Haugen also pointed out how Facebook’s engagement numbers are often the deciding factor in developing its services. “Mark has built an organization that is very metrics-driven. It is intended to be flat. There is no unilateral responsibility,” she said. “The metrics make the decision.”

The Bottom Line

In a statement, Facebook said it “doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation”, so whether or not a name change is happening is still unsure at this point.

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