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Reasons Why Facebook Changed Brand Name To Meta

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Facebook becomes Meta:; UK Competition Regulator Orders Meta To Sell Giphy

…Attempt at cleaning the slate

…Accommodate new products

…Emergence of rival Apps and dwindling number of users

Last week, social media giant, Facebook changed its brand name to Meta, emphasizing the company’s interest in AI.

CEO, Mark Zuckerberg announced during a virtual company event on Thursday that his company’s new name is now Meta.

However, many people want to know the reasons behind the sudden change in the brand name by the company.

Therefore, we bring to you some possible reasons why Facebook changed its name to Meta.

Accommodate new products/ opportunities:

Facebook announced that it has changed its brand name to accommodate its new products and services.

“From now on, we are going to be Metaverse first, not Facebook first,” Zuckerberg said Thursday.

The company’s CEO revealed that he had been considering a rebrand since about 2014, when Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp.

ALSO READ: Facebook Changes Parent Company Name To ‘Meta’

He said he decided to make the change earlier this year.

“I think it’s helpful for people to have a relationship with a company that is different from the relationship with any specific one of the products, that can kind of supersede all of that.”

Specifically, the company, in a post,  said the name change is to reflect Facebook’s push into the “metaverse.”

Metaverse is an artificial intelligence (AI) propelling technology and a virtual universe in which people interact digitally using avatars.

Emergence of rival application/ dwindling number of users

Recently, Facebook platforms have witnessed dwindling users as a result of rival applications emerging to provide similar services.

For instance, Facebook and Instagram usage among younger populations is already dwindling.

New apps like TikTok and Snapchat have come to push them aside, becoming the favourites of Gen Zs.

A report by Piper Sandler‘s “Taking Stock With Teens”, said 81% of teens it surveyed said they used Instagram.

This was the highest percentage out of all the platforms it reviewed.

Also, 77% said they use Snapchat and 73% said they use TikTok.

Only 27% of respondents said they use Facebook.

This showed Facebook came least of all the platforms.

This continuous losing of users may have caused Facebook to rebrand.

Also, the rebranding could be to save the company’s other products from criticisms.

For instance, the managing director for North America at the Social Element, Ashley Cooksley believes the rebranding will save Facebok’s products like the Horizon.

“If it’s only the holding company that changes its name, it’s presumably more about distancing the parent company from the Facebook product so that any toxicity in Facebook stays within that one product, rather than ‘infecting’ other brands under the parent banner,” Cooksley said.

Attempt to have a clean slate:

Conversely, the rebranding is one of the ways the social media giant tries to fend off one its worst crises.

Recently, the company has faced serious criticisms and hits from both the public and the government over its influence on users.

Among the findings in the documents include including Facebook’s ability to counter misinformation, Instagram’s link to eating disorders in young girls and teenagers, and the treatment of politicians and celebrities on its platforms.

Specifically, the company has been accused of fueling hate speech and negatively impacting on teenage girls.

ALSO READ: Whistleblower: Facebook Negatively Affects 29m Nigerian Users, Promotes Hate Speeches?

The most recent of the crisis is the accusation from the company’s former employee and now whistleblower, Frances Haugen.

Frances Haugen has testified before the US Congress where she claimed Facebook’s algorithm fuels misinformation.

She had testified during the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security hearing titled Children’s Online Safety-Facebook Whistleblower on Tuesday, October 5, 2021.

The hearing comes after she leaked internal documents showing the company’s controversial practices.

The whistleblower testified that Facebook prioritized profits over stopping extremism and division.

Also, she revealed that Facebook knew that Instagram negatively impacted the mental health of its young users , especially teenage girls.

Haugen also said the company’s employees were worried that a 2018 algorithm change further promoted sensationalistic and divisive content to users.

Facebook consistently resolves conflicts “in favor of its own profits,” Haugen had said in her opening remarks.

She had also added that “The result has been more division, more harm, more lies, more threats, and more combat.”

While reacting to news of Facebook global outage, the whistleblower said, “..but I know that for more than five hours, Facebook wasn’t used to deepened divides destabilize democracies and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies. It also means the millions of small businesses, weren’t able to reach potential customers, and countless photos of new babies weren’t joyously celebrated by family and friends around the world.”

Though many believe the whistleblower crisis could be the major reason for Facebook’s name change.

People said the company hhas rebranded in an attempt to clean its slate of negative impressions.

However, Zuckerberg finds this ridiculous.

In an interview with The Verge, Zuckerberg it was “ridiculous” for people to think the rebrand was in response to the company’s most recent onslaught of bad press.

“Even though I think some people might want to make that connection, I think that’s sort of a ridiculous thing.”

“If anything, I think that this is not the environment that you would want to introduce a new brand in.”

 What people are saying:

Although these and many reasons clearly informed Facebook’s brand name change, some prominent people have given their opinions on this.

A branding expert and cofounder of marketing firm Passionbrand, Helen Edwards said Facebook can’t free itself from the past.

She however suggested that to have a better future, then Zuckerberg should cease being the company’s CEO.

“Mark Zuckerberg himself is so much the face of the company – whether it’s Meta or Facebook, the social media pummeling will come back to him not the brands,” she said in an email to Insider.

“He is associated strongly with both – to give Meta its best shot, he might need to step back as the face of the business and find other people to represent the brand.”

Similarly, Marketing Week columnist, Mark Ritson has also said that the brand name change will not help the company.

He noted that Zuckerberg is rather a branding problem for Facebook. “He will be the biggest branding issue for Meta as of today.”

Also, CEO at brand agency Superunion, Jim Prior,  agreed Zuckerberg’s personal brand could have a negative impact on Meta.

“With any corporate brand there is an inevitable strong link to the reputation, personality and performance of its leader – and that is particularly so in founder-led firms. So, yes, Zuckerberg’s personal brand will be associated with Meta and any criticism or negative experience of him will impact the corporate brand.”

Despite the calls for Zuckerberg to step down as the company’s CEO, he has said he has no intention of doing that.

Zuckerberg made this clear in an interview with The Information recently.

He had said, “I really run the company on a day-to-day basis.”

Implications:

Although many people believe Facebook changed name to clean itself from bad impressions, Zuckerberg says that is not the reason.

Meanwhile, whatever the reason, the rebranding could imrove the company’s image.

Also, it could increase people’s acceptance f the company’s new products, especially the metaverse.

Anthony Chinonso Ogbonna is the editor of Techuncode media. He is a seasoned journalist whose stint cuts across broadcast, print and, especially, the online media. A graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Anthony holds a Masters Degree in Multimedia Journalism. He aligns his belief with those of world tech communities, holding tenaciously that the world is solely driven and can only be best with tech. Furthermore, Anthony believes that technology is simple, fun and is not what one, especially Africans, should be scared of, hence, his passion for telling compelling stories about tech in ways relatable to the ordinary user. He has his hobbies in reading and designing (new hobby though.)

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