Facebook has been mocked after it emerged the firm plans to rebrand its parent company with a new name next week in a bid to distance itself from a series of embarrassing scandals.
The firm’s original, flagship social media site and app – Facebook – is expected to keep its moniker, but Facebook Inc., the parent company which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, will be given rebrand.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is set to reveal the parent company’s new name at its annual Connect conference on October 28, but it could be unveiled sooner, the Verge reported.
But users took to social media to poke fun at the tech giant, which has faced a string of scandals in recent months and has seen its reputation severely bruised.
One commentator called the plan ‘the old rebrand trick’, in reference to other companies that have changed their names to avoid scrutiny, while others suggested new names for the company, with ‘Fakebook’ and ‘Wokebook’ being popular choices.
Facebook said it does not comment on rumor or speculation over the touted name change, reminiscent of when Google abruptly renamed itself Alphabet in 2015, making Google a subsidiary and allowing it to become a technology conglomerate.
Facebook will change its name as it focuses on a ‘metaverse’ of different brands. Above, founder Mark Zuckerberg wearing an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset on October 2016 during the Oculus Connect 3 event in San Jose, California
Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg plans to reveal the parent company’s new name at its annual Connect conference on October 28, but it could be unveiled sooner, the Verge reported
‘Facebook is now 17 years old, so this is right on time for deciding a new, cooler name when you get to college,’ one user joked.
Another suggested Facebook change its name to Cambridge Analytica – the company that was found to have collected Facebook user data without their consent. ‘Don’t be shy Mark. You’re part of the brand,’ the user wrote.
One person likened the expected Facebook re-brand to a wolf in sheep’s clothing, while another posted a picture of ‘The Simpsons’ character Mr Burns with a fake moustache, writing ‘Facebook with a new name’.
The name change would likely position Facebook’s social media app as one of many products under a parent company, which will oversee products like Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and more.
The change will also help distance the firm’s flagship social media brand from future bad publicity, with recent whistleblower testimony from former worker Frances Haugen adding to a list of damaging scandals to the reputations of Facebook and Instagram.
Users took to social media to poke fun at the social media giant, which has faced a string of scandals in recent months and has seen its reputation severely bruised. One commentator called the plan ‘the old rebrand trick’, in reference to other companies that have changed their names to avoid scrutiny, while others suggested new names for the company, with ‘Fakebook’ and ‘Wokebook’ being popular choices
Just yesterday, US officials announced Facebook Inc had agreed to pay pay up to $14.25 million to settle civil claims by the government that the company discriminated against American workers and violated federal recruitment rules.
And today in the UK, the company was fined £50.5 million ($70 million) after failing to provide enough important information to the competition regulator investigating the firm’s takeover of GIF sharing platform Giphy.
Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a probe into the acquisition in June last year, shortly after the deal was announced, over concerns about a ‘substantial lessening of competition’.
Facebook responded to the fine, saying: ‘We strongly disagree with the CMA’s unfair decision to punish Facebook for a best effort compliance approach, which the CMA itself ultimately approved. We will review the CMA’s decision and consider our options.’
Facebook has also admitted that users can share information about how to enter countries illegally and about people smuggled on its social media platforms.
The admission comes as Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich urged the Department of Justice and US Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the social media giant over its ‘facilitation’ of illegal migration into the United States.
The firm’s original, flagship social media site and app – Facebook (pictured, stock image) – is expected to keep its moniker, but Facebook Inc., the parent company which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, will be given rebrand
Facebook, Inc, which owns Instagram and WhatsApp, is working on Horizon Worlds, a virtual reality space including the virtual workspace Horizon Workrooms
The move could benefit the California-based behemoth’s reputation, which has suffered hit after hit in recent years.
It was accused of facilitating the spread of misinformation during the 2016 US presidential election, prompting a a series of congressional hearings and policy changes, including the introduction of third-party fact-checkers and further transparency in political advertising.
In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $5 billion for allowing 87 million US profiles to be harvested for information used for political advertising by British firm Cambridge Analytica.
Some of the advertising was used to help the 2016 campaign of former president Donald Trump.
Most recently, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen released a trove of documents dubbed the ‘Facebook Files’ to the Wall Street Journal.
The internal research suggests that Facebook promoted divisiveness as a way to keep people on the site, with Haugen saying the documents showed the company had failed to protect young users.
It also showed that the company knew Instagram harmed young girls’ body image and even tried to brainstorm ways to appeal to toddlers by ‘exploring playdates as a growth lever.’
‘The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people. Congressional action is needed,’ Haugen said at a hearing.
At the hearing, Senator Marcia Blackburn, the top Republican on the Senate Commerce consumer protection subcommittee accused Facebook of turning a blind eye to children below age 13 on its services. ‘It is clear that Facebook prioritizes profit over the well-being of children and all users,’ she said.
Zuckerberg rejected the criticism. ‘The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical,’ he wrote.
Last month, Facebook said it was putting on hold a new version of its Instagram photo sharing app for kids.
The plans emerged two weeks after ex-employee Frances Haugen testified before Congress about Facebook’s practices, which she believed helped spur the January 6 Capitol riot
Haugen said the Menlo Park, California-based company ‘over and over again has shown it chooses profits over safety’. Pictured: Facebook’s headquarters in California
Haugen, who anonymously filed eight complaints about her former employer with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, told 60 Minutes earlier this month: ‘Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety.’
She claimed that a 2018 change prioritizing divisive posts, which made Facebook users argue, was found to boost user engagement.
That in turn helped bosses sell more online ads that have seen the social media giant’s value pass $1 trillion.
‘You are forcing us to take positions that we don’t like, that we know are bad for society. We know if we don’t take those positions, we won’t win in the marketplace of social media,’ Haugen said.
She also blamed Facebook for spurring the January 6 Capitol riot.
What is the metaverse?
The ‘metaverse’ is a set of virtual spaces where you can game, work and communicate with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.
Facebook explained: ‘You’ll be able to hang out with friends, work, play, learn, shop, create and more.
‘It’s not necessarily about spending more time online — it’s about making the time you do spend online more meaningful.’
While Facebook is leading the charge with the metaverse, it explained that it isn’t a single product one company can build alone.
‘Just like the internet, the metaverse exists whether Facebook is there or not,’ it added.
‘And it won’t be built overnight. Many of these products will only be fully realized in the next 10-15 years.’
Haugen, who spent two years at Facebook after working at Google, Yelp and Pinterest, testified in Congress on October 5.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal kicked off the hearing by calling Facebook ‘morally bankrupt’ and criticized Zuckerberg for going sailing in Hawaii with wife Priscilla Chan instead of answering questions from lawmakers.
Senator Ed Markey also piled on the absent tech billionaire, addressing him by name during the hearing to warn him that ‘Congress will be taking action’ with or without his help.
‘Your time of invading privacy, promoting toxic content, and preying on children and teens is over. Congress will be taking action. You can work with us, or not work with us, but we will not allow your company to harm our children and our families and out democracy any longer,’ Markey said.
Haugen told senators that no similar company’s CEO has as much unilateral control as Zuckerberg does.
‘Mark holds a very unique role in the tech industry in that he holds over 55% of all the voting shares for Facebook. There are no similarly powerful companies that are as unilaterally controlled,’ she said. ‘There’s no one currently holding him accountable but himself.’
A metaverse, which Facebook is now focusing on, refers to shared virtual world environments, which people can access via the internet.
The term can refer to digital spaces, which are made more lifelike by the use of virtual reality or augmented reality.
Zuckerberg has previously suggested it to be future of the company, and has been talking up the metaverse since July.
The company 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.
The buzzy word, first coined in a dystopian novel three decades earlier, is popular in Silicon Valley and has been referenced by other tech firms such as Microsoft.
The popular children’s game Roblox describes itself as a metaverse company. Epic Games’ Fortnite is also considered to be part of the metaverse.
The metaverse is ‘going to be a big focus, and I think that this is just going to be a big part of the next chapter for the way that the internet evolves after the mobile internet,’ Zuckerberg told The Verge earlier this year.
‘And I think it’s going to be the next big chapter for our company too, really doubling down in this area.’
On Sunday, Facebook announced it was hiring 10,000 people in Europe to build the metaverse out.
‘There’s no one currently holding him accountable but himself,’ Haugen said of Zuckerberg
‘The metaverse has the potential to help unlock access to new creative, social, and economic opportunities. And Europeans will be shaping it right from the start,’ the company said in a blog post.
‘Today, we are announcing a plan to create 10,000 new high skilled jobs within the European Union (EU) over the next five years.’
The tech giant said the new roles will include ‘highly specialised engineers’ but did not reveal any more detail about its plans for the new metaverse team.
It was announced on Tuesday that the U.S. Senate will hold an Octtober 26 hearing with tech firms Snap’s Snapchat, TikTok, and Alphabet’s YouTube about their platforms’ impact on young users.
‘Recent revelations about harm to kids online show that Big Tech is facing its Big Tobacco moment a moment of reckoning,’ said Senator Richard Blumenthal, who chairs the Senate Commerce consumer protection subcommittee holding the hearing.
‘We need to understand the impact of popular platforms like Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube on children and what companies can do better to keep them safe.’
Senator Marcia Blackburn said, ‘TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube all play a leading role in exposing children to harmful content.’
This content was originally published here.