Zuckerberg announced the rebranding on Thursday, during the company’s hour-long Connect 2021 virtual event, describing it as “the next evolution of social connection.” Though the technologies to make the “metaverse” happen are still in development and may be years off, the name change is effective immediately.
Meta won’t erase Facebook – or Instagram or WhatsApp – but denote the parent company in charge of all three, much as Alphabet is the company that owns Google and YouTube, for example.
There seemed to be some confusion on that account online, however, as people who have been targeting Zuckerberg as an enemy of “our democracy” immediately jumped to the conclusion it was an attempt to hide or change the subject.
“I don’t know if Zuckerberg knows but changing your name doesn’t help avoid legal culpability,” tweeted Zephyr Teachout, a progressive Democrat from New York, adding that Meta was “a perfectly fine name for one of the dozen social networks that will be leftover after the break up.”
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) said it reminded her of “a cancer to democracy metastasizing into a global surveillance and propaganda machine for boosting authoritarian regimes and destroying civil society… for profit!”
Dan Pfeiffer, former Obama aide and current board member of Good Information Inc, called Zuckerberg’s ideas “embarrassingly stupid” with no one at Facebook daring to tell him so.
Others made fun of the rebrand, and for a while ‘feta’ was trending with memes involving Zuckerberg and the famous Greek cheese. The fast-food chain Wendy’s joked they would change their name to ‘Meat.’
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted out a dictionary definition of the term in English, saying that “meta” means “referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential.”
His company later added the only META they will recognize is their Machine [Learning], Ethics, Transparency and Accountability team.
Once you get past the memes and mockery, however, Zuckerberg’s presentation revealed an ambitious plan for what he called “embodied internet,” a combination of virtual and augmented reality that will be experienced through motion sensors, smart glasses and technologies that have yet to be invented.