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The Facebook Company is now Meta

Facebook Inc is now called Meta, the company said on October 28, in a rebrand that focuses on building the "metaverse," a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet.

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

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at the company's live-streamed virtual and augmented reality conference, “Facebook Connect”, 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. Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger now belong to Meta, but their names will also remain the same, as will Portal, the connected screen.

"Right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can't possibly represent everything that we're doing today, let alone in the future," said Zuckerberg. “Today we are seen as a social media company, but in our DNA, we are a company that builds technology to connect people, and the metaverse is the next frontier just like social networking was when we got started”, he added.

This move obviously recalls the case of Google. In 2015, Google reorganized entirely under the holding company  Alphabet, partly to signal that it was no longer just a search engine, but a sprawling conglomerate active in many tech sectors.

In July, Mark Zuckerberg has laid out his vision to transform Facebook from a social media network into a “metaverse company” in the next five years. "I believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet, and creating this product group is the next step in our journey to help build it," he said.

Facebook has invested heavily in virtual reality and augmented reality, developing hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets and working on AR glasses and wristband technologies.

On 19 August, Facebook also announced the launch of the Horizon Workrooms virtual reality remote collaboration application, which allows up to 16 people (represented by avatars) to gather in a virtual meeting room to exchange, share documents and make decisions.

More recently, on October 17th, Nick Clegg, VP Global Affairs, and Javier Olivan, VP Central Products, announced in a statement a plan to create 10,000 new high-skilled jobs within the European Union (EU) over the next five years in order to build the metaverse, “the next computing platform”. This plan is also a way for Facebook to put down more roots in Europe.

Metaverse concept origins

The term Metaverse was coined in Neal Stephenson's 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash”, where humans, as avatars, interact with each other and software agents, in a three-dimensional space that uses the metaphor of the real world. Stephenson used the term to describe a virtual reality-based successor to the internet. Concepts similar to the Metaverse have appeared under a variety of names in the cyberpunk genre of fiction as far back as 1981 in the novella “True Names”.