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Facebook will change its name next week to reflect a shift in its company goals to de-emphasize its dominant place in social media, according to a report by the Verge.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants the new name to demonstrate Facebook’s focus on building the metaverse, an unidentified insider told The Verge. In addition to its namesake social media company, Facebook owns Instagram, WhatsApp and the virtual-reality headset company Oculus.
Representatives for Facebook did not comment for the Verge story and did not respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.
In July, Zuckerberg told the Verge that Facebook aims to increase its investment in alternative reality technologies and “will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.”
This would not be the first time that a tech company has attempted to rebrand at the corporate level. Six years ago, Google rebranded itself as Alphabet — though the search engine and its related advertising efforts remain the company’s most recognizable division and the source of much of its revenues.
The rebranding could also separate Facebook from its ongoing controversies. The company’s social media platforms have been under intense scrutiny in recent months for their role in negatively influencing teenagers and young girls as well as for spreading misinformation about everything from the coronavirus to the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol in January.
Most recently, Zuckerberg himself defended the company after a whistleblower named Frances Haugen gave testimony on Capitol Hill about the company’s internal research showing Facebook and Instagram are damaging to young people — and, she says, its failure to do anything about that.
“I’m sure many of you have found the recent coverage hard to read because it just doesn’t reflect the company we know. We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health. It’s difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just don’t recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted,” he said in a post. “Many of the claims don’t make any sense.”
Haugen, an ex-product manager who filed a whistleblower complaint, told lawmakers that Facebook consistently prioritized its profits over the well-being and safety of its users, and called for government regulation of the social media giant.