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Facebook Will Reportedly Change Its Company Name to Embrace the Metaverse

Facebook is reportedly planning to change its name in an effort to reflect its work building the "metaverse," The Verge reports, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to announce the name change at the company's Connect conference on October 28, if not sooner. The name change could signal Facebook's intentions to grow further beyond a social media company and into more of a tech conglomerate. With Facebook owning Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus VR devices, and other brands, the name change will likely organize every group under one umbrella, similar to Google's change to Alphabet in 2015.

Zuckerberg has previously commented on Facebook's intentions to expand into different technology and the metaverse. He told The Verge earlier this year that "we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.”

The Verge also reports that the name is a closely guarded secret, even among Facebook's senior leadership. One theory is that it will take its name from Facebook's unreleased VR platform, Horizon Worlds, previously known as Facebook Horizons.

Facebook's rebranding could also have an impact on the negative perception of the company as a major source of misinformation. Earlier this month, a whistleblower (and former employee of Facebook) testified that the company prioritized profit over the well-being of its users, and leaked confidential documents related to her allegations.

Some of the whistleblower's most notable claims include that Facebook was aware its product was having a negative impact on people's health, particularly teen mental health. The whistleblower also alleged that Facebook softened its regulations on misinformation after the 2020 election, just before the January 6 riot in Washington D.C., Vox reports.

Even prior to 2021, Facebook was frequently mired in controversy. The infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal showed that Facebook had exposed the data of 87 million accounts to the political consulting firm working for the Trump campaign. A lawsuit was filed in 2018 over the data-mining scandal and more recently today the DC Attorney General announced that Mark Zuckerberg had been added as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Even Facebook's technology has found itself under intense criticism. Facebook formally apologized last month after the platform's AI labeled videos of black men under "primates."

What exactly is the metaverse? It depends on who you ask. The founder of Pokemon Go creator Niantic called it a "dystopian nightmare," but Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, who received $1 billion earlier this year to help build Epic's own metaverse, believes it will be an asynchronous and persistent virtual universe where every brand, company, independent users, and independent creators can be interconnected. Imagine Ready Player One's Oasis, but where Fortnite and Instagram exist in the same code.

It's definitely complicated, and likely years and years away from becoming a reality thanks to the diverse and unregulated nature of the internet and different tech platforms, to say nothing of convincing major brands to participate in a virtual world. The term "metaverse" has also been used by NFT and cryptocurrency groups to describe their vision of a shared universe where a unique item in one game/app can be used in another. However, the NFT and cryptocurrency community is so rife with scams and dodgy promises that even Steam has seen fit to ban all games with any NFT or cryptocurrency integration. Lucky for them, Sweeney says they're cool with Epic.

Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer/non-fungullible for IGN. Become a part of his meh-taverse on Twitter.

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