November 15, 2021 - 10:32 am

What's There In A Name

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and CEO of the parent company announced the much-anticipated name change to Facebook Inc's holding company to 'Meta' with new logo which resembles the symbol for infinity. Facebook, the social networking app, will retain its name and the other apps owned by the company will retain theirs but all the apps - Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger - will now be under the renamed company Meta. This is similar to Google, which has all its products under the umbrella company Alphabet.

                                  The company rebranded itself as a reflection of the companies growing focus on a new area - the metaverse. In Greek, Meta is 'after' or 'beyond'. And verse means 'universe'. The idea follows from the current science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson published in 1992 where the phrase metaverse was first used. Metaverse is a parallel, virtual, world where users can have different identities, positions and characters. It is more than the ability to teleport oneself into different spaces or to experience mixed reality. One of the key characteristics of the metaverse is that it is live and continuous, and does not reset.

                                   Facebook is not the only one working on making mixed reality an actual reality. Microsoft's project Mesh is trying to bring mixed reality to life; it would include the ability to allow 'holoportation' for individuals. Google's project Starline had a mixed reality experience for video calls, but the technology in all cases it’s still nascent.

                                   The renaming of the company comes at a time when Facebook controversies, regulatory and legislative scrutiny following the revelations of Facebook papers. There are major user privacy concerns around Facebook, and it is unclear how privacy would function in the metaverse - especially given its all-encompassing nature. Moreover, Meta has yet to address how its apps and algorithms have lead to social strife, political polarization and devaluation of facts. Only time will reveal its true colour how Meta will fix all the concerns.