Facebook, Meta, say what? You’ve probably heard it on the news in the last few days. The well-known company Facebook is going to change its brand and will officially become Meta from December 1st. What will change and why the name change is only a small part of the complete roadmap, we tell you in this article. We also look at the challenges in the field of privacy and security. You’re reading?
We are all familiar with this global face book: Facebook. On October 28, the big boss, Mark Zuckerberg, introduced the new brand. Facebook becomes Meta Platforms Inc.; just goal. See the CEO’s announcement below:
So Meta is just the old Facebook. Facebook started in the United States as a network concept. Students at universities, at first only Harvard, where Zuckerberg studied, could meet online, after which this was expanded even further. Over the years, interest has increased, making it a popular concept around the world.
Facebook has long since ceased to be an ordinary networking site, as the company has taken over several other social sites. The company belongs to the well-known Big Five, along with Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft. These are the initiatives that the company currently has:
Why the Meta rebrand?
Now you may be thinking: why the name change? Well, I’ll tell you. Mark Zuckerberg goes all out to the Metaverse. Its goal is to bring together one billion people around the world in a virtual reality world, the metaverse. Here you can not only meet and play, but also use social networks and shop. Later in this article, I’ll explain what the metaverse is, but first we’ll dive into the relevant Meta news.
Actually, it’s better to call it Facebook’s initial public offering, because that’s what the company was called at the time, of course. It was preceded by much speculation, but in May 2012 the time had finally come. A share was $38 at the time, but shortly after the IPO, the price fell immediately.
Not only did participation drop, but the number of users also dropped. This raised serious questions about the IPO, the listing price and the future of the hitherto great company. The price continued to fall for a while until it bottomed out at $19 per share. It took no less than a year (!), until the price rose again above the issue price.
In the following years, the price remained almost stable, until the moment of 2018: July 26. The price fell and lost 20%, making Meta worth $110 billion in one fell swoop. Especially in Europe, the number of users decreased, which the company definitely did not expect.
The Facebook Archives
Facebook has already overcome several hurdles, including the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, stricter privacy laws in Europe, and changes to advertising policies. At the time of writing (November 2021), the company is under more pressure with the ‘The Facebook Files’ hype.
After the rebranding in October 2021, Zuckerberg is under considerable pressure. There have been many comments about the malfunctioning of your company’s applications, since a rebrand does not solve or contribute anything at all. The media is increasing the pressure by releasing thousands of internal documents. This exposes all the weaknesses of the company, which of course is not a pleasant surprise for the CEO.
What’s in the Facebook files?
Why are those Facebook files so sensitive? Well, because it’s about protecting the weak and, of course, about a general sense of duty. Consider, for example, the fact that Instagram has a very bad influence on the self-image of teenagers. Facebook knows this, but does not intervene and invites teenagers to participate.
One would think that everyone could and should do the same on Facebook platforms, but there are exceptions for an elite group of actors, athletes and popular figures. They flout the rules and are not punished for this, as is the case with ordinary people (you and me).
Whistleblower Frances Haugen also revealed in October of this year that Facebook was contributing to the Capitol takeover. By disabling security measures, the social platform had its share of the situation spiraling out of control, which certainly didn’t slow down the storm in Washington. Of course, this was denied by the media mogul, but we all know how things go in the world sometimes…
Where before the focus was on connection and contact, it will now be shifted. It’s not just a name change, but a complete rebrand. Meta will focus on new pillars such as fun, friends, family, reality, and apps. Or, as Mark himself puts it: “From now on, we’re going to be metaverse first, not Facebook first.”
When we, as users, mainly seek connection with each other, with our passions, activities and future, it is different for Meta. We are looking for the right technology and we want to use it, but Meta wants to develop this technology for us.
The Metaverse is a future ‘virtual’ reality, but what exactly will this mean and what role does Zuckerberg want to play with his company?
If you want to delve into the topic of the metaverse, I recommend reading this article. For the connection between Meta and the metaverse I will build a small bridge here. Because, oddly enough, the whole idea of virtual reality stems from a 1992 science fiction book, Snow Crash.
The metaverse is a shared virtual space, which is formed by the combination of the Internet, augmented reality and virtual reality. Everything comes together in this futuristic world, through existing, shared and 3D virtual spaces.
Since Meta’s mission is, and Facebook’s, ‘connect people/bring people together’, it’s just a small step into the metaverse. From this goal it is also easy to understand that this fits in with Zuckerberg’s line. However, what is up for debate is the fact that the metaverse is a world where people come together. And of course, that world shouldn’t be owned by anyone, least of all a big, powerful company.
What are Zuckerberg’s metaverse ambitions?
Bring people together through a social platform? Facebook has been successful at this for years. However, the fact is that we mainly experience the entire Internet from behind our desk or from the lazy chair. We look at screens where a flat 2D world fills our brains. Zuckerberg wants to see this more interactive and thinks the metaverse can really help.
Coming together in 3D in a virtual world, the possibilities seem endless. You can meet, connect with each other and draw everything to you. You no longer look at that world from your desk chair, but you are part of it.
Security and privacy are important when it comes to the metaverse. Facebook isn’t really known for excelling in this area. From hate speech to privacy scandals, it’s all happened in the history of Facebook.
Of course, privacy settings play a big role in this, because what does the platform know about you and what can you consciously protect? And so how do you actually do that? Facebook is pretty unlimited here, but hey, if you want to stay anonymous, you’d better lock down your PC and smartphone…
In addition to the default settings, Facebook also uses your private data for advertising and targeting. This is prohibited in many countries, encouraging unfair competition. By raising fees and continuing to use secret data, the superpower may gain more and more in advertising costs.
But just because Facebook is considered unsafe or unfair doesn’t mean the metaverse is or will be unsafe. Security is and remains a difficult topic, because the frameworks are different for everyone. There are also dangers that you may not have considered yet, so why not read on?
What are the risks of the metaverse?
To begin with, the metaverse is like an extra universe, so you have risks similar to those of your current daily life. Think about ads, physical security risks, and privacy issues.
Let me first emphasize that ads are sometimes deeper than you think. It says something about your search behavior and therefore about you as a person. Your interests, desires, hobbies, and daily routines are thrown into your lap by means of advertisements. You need expertise to protect yourself from this, and of course also to prevent this personal information from being shared with the rest of the users in the metaverse.
What I do consider a risk, and that has of course been taken into account by Mark, is the fact that Meta is now considered to be the founder of the metaverse. In my opinion, this is the worst that could happen, since the metaverse should not belong to a single person, company or owner. It is a world that we create, fill and use together. That is where the power lies.
So you might think: physical risks? Yes, because inherent in the metaverse are VR glasses. You need this to imagine yourself in other dimensions, but because of this you lose the realistic view for a while. Several accidents have already happened, because people forget to clear the space and remove cables or other objects. In addition, countless accidents have already occurred, in which children or pets are hit with an object.
Marketing in the metaverse
Finally, the privacy rules are of course not yet set for the future. We live in the now and with the arrival of the metaverse this becomes many times more complex. For example, can you record something in this cool new 3D world? What about limits for sellers? Reaching out to adults in an allowable way is one thing, but how do you make sure kids are and stay safe?
Games are already provoking them more and more and many children lose their sense of reality, but what about experiences in the metaverse? Are they going to confuse this with the ‘offline’ world and get overconfident? Or really scared? What restrictions do marketers have for this and can they be enforced? Not to mention the data that is collected from brain waves. Yes really…
My conclusion is that much remains to be discovered. There are privacy issues, technical challenges, and much more. The fact that the metaverse is coming is second to none and that Meta will play a role in this; Sure. Let’s guard against the fact that it’s going to become a Zuckerberg monopoly, heating up endless parts and users.
Note: I refer to it several times in this article as virtual reality or virtual world, but these terms are actually already reserved for existing projects. However, there is no other way to describe this concretely, but this will certainly change.
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Header image: meta.com