Facebook is set to change the name of its company as early as next week in a signal of intent as it transitions from a social network to a company focused on the metaverse, according to a story in The Verge.
The tech publication, which cited a source with direct knowledge of the plan, said that founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg would discuss the new name at Facebook’s annual Connect conference on Thursday 28 October, though the identity could be revealed before then.
When contacted by Campaign, a Facebook spokesman said: “We don't comment on rumour or speculation.”
Zuckerberg said in July that he wants to transition Facebook into a “metaverse company”. The term metaverse, though often used as a singular, refers to a range of virtual and mixed reality platforms in which users can interact with each other, brands and experiences via avatars.
It is often applied to games titles such as Fortnite and Roblox, and decentralised platforms including Decentraland and The Sandbox – but Facebook plans to make inroads into the metaverse through the development of physical tech products including its Oculus VR headsets, neural wristbands and AR glasses.
Speaking at the IAB UK Digital Upfronts last week, Nicola Mendelsohn, vice-president of Facebook’s global business group, urged brands to “get their heads around” the metaverse, arguing it would be central to how they reached consumers in the years to come.
The move comes after a tumultuous time for the social media giant, which has faced severe criticism following a series of reports in the Wall Street Journal last month based on leaked documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen, which alleged the company knew about and failed to act on a number of damaging consequences of its platforms.
Facebook has strongly rejected Haugen’s moral criticism that it “puts profit before safety” and has issued a series of rebuttals to the charges from Haugen and others, which include an accusation that it has misled investors and advertisers about the size of its user base.
On 4 October, it also experienced a six-hour outage, affecting all of its platforms. It has been attributed to the company’s management of all its own technology – meaning the problem that caused the outage also prevented it from being fixed easily.
The corporate rebrand will see Facebook follow in the footsteps of Google, which changed the name of its trading company to Alphabet in 2015, spinning off some of its other operations into separate companies under the Alphabet umbrella.
Despite this, in the second quarter of 2021, Alphabet’s “other bets” (operations not branded as Google or YouTube) accounted for just 0.3% of its $61.9 billion in revenue.