Dubai | Artificial Intelligence Journalism
Facebook Inc. has now a new name called “Meta”. The name change comes as the company focuses on building the “metaverse,” a shared virtual environment that it bets will be the successor to the mobile internet.
At the company’s live-streamed virtual and augmented reality conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg, said the new name reflected its work investing in the metaverse, rather than its namesake social media service, which will continue to be called Facebook, according to Reuters.
What is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a term coined in the dystopian novel “Snow Crash” three decades ago. It refers broadly to the idea of a shared virtual realm which can be accessed by people using different devices. Zuckerberg said the new name, coming from the Greek word for “beyond,” symbolized there was always more to build. It also reflects that over time, users will not need to use Facebook to use the company’s other services.
Facebook, said the change would bring together its different apps and technologies under one new brand. It said it would not change its corporate structure.
Facebook said that its hardware division Facebook Reality Labs, which is responsible for AR and VR efforts, would become a separate reporting unit. And that its investment in it would reduce this year’s total operating profit by about $10 billion.
This year, the company created a product team in this unit focused on the metaverse. Recently it announced plans to hire 10,000 employees in Europe over the next five years to work on the effort.
The division will now be called Reality Labs, its head Andrew “Boz” Bosworth. The company will also stop using the Oculus branding for its VR headsets, instead of calling them “Meta” products.
Facebook, which this year launched its own pair of smart glasses with Ray-Ban, announced a slew of new AR and VR product updates during Connect. These included a way for people using its Oculus VR headset to call friends using Facebook Messenger and for people to invite others to a social version of their home, dubbed “Horizon Home.”
Zuckerberg also showed video demos of what the metaverse could look like. With people connecting as avatars and being transported to digital versions of various places and time periods. He said that the metaverse would need to be built with safety and privacy in mind.
The company’s reputation has taken multiple hits in recent years, including over its handling of user data and its policing of abuses such as health misinformation, violent rhetoric and hate speech. The last of these problems was the globe outage of Facebook, whatsApp and Instagram services. This caused Mark Zuckerberg, to suffer a huge financial loss and a significant decline in the confidence of its subscribers.