What does Facebook’s rebrand as Meta mean

Meta logo courtesy of Meta (Facebook Corporation)Facebook is undertaking a rebranding exercise by calling itself Meta.

But this will apply to the company name rather than the social network service that was this company’s foundation stone. Here, it does not affect the brand name of each service they offer and has come about thanks to them acquiring Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus Rift.

It is based upon their acquisition of Oculus Rift who is about augmented reality and virtual reality. It will also allow the creation of separate business and financial reports for their online services and their hardware investments.

This will be very similar to Google’s current company structure where the Alphabet company encompasses Google’s services, Nest’s smart-home portfolio, the YouTube online multimedia service portfolio and Jigsaw.

Facebook login pageThere are the four user-account pools within the Meta brand – Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus Quest. At the moment, the Facebook account pool is being used as a single sign-on for Instagram, Oculus Quest and for third-party apps wanting a social sign-on option. But there has been pressure within the company to bind these account pools together even if a user subscribes to one of these services.

The “Meta” brand is about the concept of a “metaverse” which is a shared virtual environment that is accessed by many people with different types of devices. It is seen by Silicon Valley as the next-generation Internet. The idea is to have a collection of shared 3D virtual spaces that are linked together to create a virtual universe with the focus being on augmented reality.

It capitalises on videoconferencing of the Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams kind; games like Minecraft, Fortnite or Pokemon Go with infinite open worlds; email and messaging; the Social Web; and live streaming. The user experience will be focused around augmented reality with devices like augmented-reality smart glasses or smartphones that run augmented-reality apps and games.

The company logo will have a blue “infinity” symbol that symbolises the metaverse which Facebook is showing strong keen interest within. Australian users may see this as being similar to the logo that the ABC public-service broadcaster has used for a very long time, representing a sine-wave associated with radio broadcasting.

But why is this change taking place now? A lot of cynics are concerned that Facebook is facing increased scrutiny by governments and media on a significant number of fronts including competition / anti-trust regulation. This is because of the social networks including WhatsApp’s group messaging being a hive for fake news and disinformation, end-user privacy concerns, mental health issues regarding social-media use and the Insta-influencer culture, how it deals with the news establishment and its part in an online display-ads duopoly amongst other things.

Here Facebook’s use of the new brand and underscoring the “metaverse” concept may be seen as a distraction from these realities. This is more so where the metaverse is becoming a talking point within the consumer and business IT world as a potential trend.

Personally, I see Facebook’s Meta and Google’s Alphabet effort as being endemic of Big Tech restructuring itself in to a business-flexible form in order to have their hands upon different aspects of the Internet. It can be about facilitating the spawning of different business sectors or taking over businesses in the IT and online-services in order to carve out areas of our online lives they want to conquer. Who knows when Amazon or another of the Big Tech companies will engage in a corporate restructure and rebranding exercise.

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