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Why is Facebook re-branding?

Meta website displayed on a laptop screen and Facebook app logo displayed on a phone screen are seen in this illustration photo Source: NurPhoto

The name change comes as the world's largest social media company battles criticisms from politicians and regulators over its market power, algorithmic decisions and the policing of abuses on its platforms.

Facebook Inc is now called Meta in a rebrand that focuses on its ambitions to build the so-called "metaverse," a shared virtual environment that it's gambling will become the next big computing platform.

The metaverse refers broadly to the idea of a shared virtual environment which can be accessed by people using different devices.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at the company's live-streamed virtual and augmented reality conference, says the new name reflects its ambitions to build the metaverse, rather than its namesake social media service.

"It is time for us to adopt a new company brand to encompass everything that we do, to reflect who we are and what we hope to build. I am proud to announce that starting today, our company is now Meta. Our mission remains the same. It's still about bringing people together. Our apps and their brands, they're not changing either and we are still the company that designs technology around people."

Allen Adamson is a marketing and branding export who co-founded Metaforce, a marketing firm based in New York.

He says rebranding Facebook now makes people think Mr Zuckerberg is trying to create a "distraction."

"I think trying to brand it .. timing is everything when launching a new brand, and this timing is really difficult because for most audiences, it will appear that he's become a little bit (like) The Wizard of Oz. If you remember that movie, you know, 'pay no attention to the person behind the curtain'. You know, I'm just pushing the levers and, you know, look forward, look at the future, look at the metaverse and don't worry about what's happening on Facebook. And the challenge is that, you know, doing it now makes people feel like he's trying to create a distraction."

Meta said in a blog post that it intends to start trading under the new stock ticker it has reserved, M-V-R-S, on the 1st of December. 

It has unveiled a new sign at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, replacing Facebook's thumbs-up "Like" logo with a blue infinity shape.

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