Facebook is changing its name to Meta, reflecting the company’s push to build a virtual world filled with digital avatars known as the metaverse as it battles a deep PR crisis and growing regulatory scrutiny.
Speaking at Facebook Connect, the company’s annual virtual and augmented reality conference, on Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is “a popular social media brand but increasingly, it doesn’t include everything we do.”
He added, “From now on, we’ll be metaverse first, not Facebook first.” While the company was changing its name to Meta, Zuckerberg said the existing individual platforms and brands — Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram and Oculus — would not change.
Zuckerberg has boosted investment in augmented and virtual reality as it competes with Apple and others to build the next generation computing platform. In July, he first outlined his vision for building a metaverse, which can be accessed through various devices, allowing users to shop, play and socialize.
The company said Monday that starting in the fourth quarter of this year it intends to publish results for its Facebook Reality Labs unit, which builds AR, VR and metaverse products from the rest of the business.
Facebook is facing a deluge of scrutiny after Frances Haugen, a former employee turned whistleblower, accused the company of deepening polarization and putting relentless profits on the safety of its users.
Several news outlets, including the Financial Times, have obtained redacted copies of thousands of documents they submitted to US regulators and Congress, which provide a glimpse into the company’s inner workings.
Facebook said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that it “has become subject to government investigations and requests related to allegations by a former employee and the release of internal company documents relating to, among other things, our algorithms, ad and user metrics, and content enforcement practices, such as in addition to misinformation and other unauthorized activities.” desirable on our platform and user well-being.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the Federal Trade Commission has begun examining Facebook’s internal research, particularly into whether the company’s platforms exacerbated teen mental health problems, to assess whether it violated a $5 billion settlement agreed with the agency in 2019 is about privacy. Fears.
Facebook also confirmed that it instructed employees on Wednesday not to delete documents. “Requests to preserve documents are part of the process for responding to legal inquiries,” said Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesperson.
The company’s shares have fallen more than 16 percent since the newspaper began reporting on the Facebook docs in mid-September.
The metaverse will be the “successor to the mobile internet,” Zuckerberg said in an earnings call on Monday. He added that Facebook hopes to attract an additional 1 billion users and “hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce per day” in the next decade.
On Thursday, the company announced a slew of new metaverse, AR, and VR features and projects, and sought to reassure users that privacy and security will be included in those features. This included “Horizon Home,” an app designed to allow users to socialize as an avatar in a shared virtual home while wearing Oculus virtual reality headsets.
Facebook also said that it was going beyond the existing cartoon-like avatars and developing fully realistic images that reflect and track users.
Additionally, the company has launched a toolkit called Presence to help developers build mixed reality experiences for the metaverse, and an app called Polar to help creators build augmented reality filters for photos and video more easily.
Zuckerberg laments, “Low choice and high fees [that] Innovations stifle “developers using existing operating systems, in a clear shot against Apple and Google, whose mobile app stores charge 15 to 30 percent commissions on digital goods.
He said Facebook plans to charge “low fees in as many cases as possible” to developers and creators who use its metaverse-related services.
Zuckerberg also noted that cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens – digital tokens that represent artwork or other collectibles – will be part of his metaverse vision.
#techFT brings you news, commentary and analysis on the top companies, technologies and issues that make up these fastest-moving sectors from professionals located all over the world. Click here to get #techFT in your inbox.