Embroiled in a mega-controversy, Facebook has rebranded itself under a new name: Meta.
The name change in Facebook’s parent company was unveiled by Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s annual Connect conference on Thursday afternoon after an hour-plus presentation highlighting Meta’s efforts to build out a VR-enabled “metaverse.” The Facebook name “just doesn’t encompass everything we do,” Zuckerberg explained in announcing the Meta move.
Despite the hype, tech observers and Facebook hawks aren’t so taken with the name change. And they’re certainly not ready to forget the ongoing Facebook Papers document leak from whistleblower Frances Haugen, which accuses Facebook—or now, Meta—of sowing societal dissent and continuously putting profits over user safety.
A key metaverse architect was little impressed with the big repositioning. But the most attention came from the toughest critics in the world—those on social media.
There have been a lot of Facebook and Zuckerberg memes through the years. There was the “Zuckerberg is a lizard person” era. There was “smoking brisket and ribs,” and even Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Zuckerberg getting handed a note in The Social Network made the rounds.
But with Meta, the jokes are a bit more heavy-handed.
A new MetaPR Twitter account was quick to crop up to reassure everyone that Facebook will be operating business as usual—warts and all.
Most are pessimistic of any meaningful change in Facebook’s culture at all.
As Halloween approaches, a reference to Mary Shelley’s gothic masterpiece is welcomed.
Of course, an out-of-context Succession reference earns points.
And there were references to the 2010 biographic David Fincher film, The Social Network.
The PlayStation play
Some on Twitter drew parallels between Meta and what Sony tried to accomplish with the short-lived PlayStation Home experiment. Launched in 2008 as an “open beta,” Home was designed as a social space where PlayStation users, through customizable avatars, could interact, host events, and play games together. Home became a moneymaking machine for Sony, as users could spend money on virtual items for their “apartments” and costumes for their avatar. Brands like Red Bull also got involved in selling virtual items and hosting events. Sony eventually closed down Home in 2015, without ever formally releasing the product.
Commenters on Twitter were quick to compare Facebook’s metaverse announcement—and the awkwardness of some of the character models—with Home. Tweets said Horizon was PlayStation Home “for crypto dorks” or “with a sinister atmosphere.” Social media users also compared Meta’s focus on NFTs with PlayStation Home’s use of microtransactions.
And then there are those who are just disappointed in the choice of name.
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