Facebook’s Brand Is So Toxic Zuckerberg Reportedly Wants to Change Its Name

Facebook has become synonymous with hate speech, disinformation, election interference, and even genocide.

Oct 20 2021, 12:58pm
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In the middle of one of the worst crises his company has ever faced, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg isn’t digging in and fixing the democracy-destroying problems he’s created. Instead, he’s reportedly planning to rebrand.

That’s according to a report from the Verge that says Zuckerberg will speak about the new company name at Facebook’s big Connect conference, which kicks off on Oct. 28, though the new name could be announced sooner. Facebook has declined to comment on the report.

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While it might seem like odd timing, given that Zuckerberg has faced weeks of unrelenting negative press about his company’s myriad failures, it’s no surprise he wants a new start: Facebook has now become synonymous with hate speech, disinformation, election interference, and even genocide.

Over the last few weeks, the company’s massive failures have been laid bare, initially thanks to internal documents and reports published by the Wall Street Journal in a series of damning reports. Then Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager-turned-whistleblower testified before Congress. And this week former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang told British lawmakers how the company was facilitating authoritarian governments the world over.

The reports and Haugen’s testimony revealed that Facebook rules don’t apply to VIPs, that Instagram is toxic for teenage girls—and the company knew it—that Facebook actually makes people angrier, and that the company has failed to invest in resources in countries outside the Western world.

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The Verge’s report, which is based on information from a source within the company, does not reveal what the new name will be, but it is likely to be an umbrella brand under which Facebook’s expanding universe of products—including WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus, and the Facebook app itself—will sit.

The rebrand could be seen as a reflection of just how toxic the Facebook brand has become.

Facebook is one of the most recognizable brands on the planet, and in the past, Zuckerberg has been keen to brand everything with the Facebook name. When he bought WhatsApp and Instagram, he insisted they be called “Instagram by FB” and “WhatsApp by FB.”

Whatever the company’s new name will be, the rebrand is very likely linked to Zuckerberg’s increased obsession with the “metaverse.”

Having spent 15 years building the world’s most powerful communications platform, which has been weaponized by bad actors determined to destroy the world, Zuckerberg now wants to create a virtual version of the world where he can begin again and try to do things better.

Facebook has already given us a glimpse of what the metaverse will look like with its horribly clunky Horizon Workrooms, a virtual reality space where meetings will take place in the future.

Just this week, Facebook announced the creation of 10,000 new jobs across Europe to help build the “metaverse.” And in an attempt to assuage fears that he will simply repeat the mistakes he made in the real world in his virtual universe, Zuckerberg last month pledged $50 million to avoid turning the “metaverse” into another hellscape.

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Given Zuckerberg’s focus on the “metaverse,” it makes sense that the rebranding would reflect that. 

Facebook’s former head of its now-dissolved civic integrity unit, Samidh Chakrabarti, believes that “meta” is a likely candidate for a new company name.

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And luckily for the Facebook CEO, the meta.com URL currently redirects to meta.org, the website of a biomedical research discovery tool that’s controlled by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic organization run by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

By using the name meta for his new company, Zuckerberg would be much more likely to succeed in claiming outright control of the term “metaverse” in the future.

The Verge report suggested the rebrand could also be linked to Horizon, the virtual reality platform the company has been developing in recent years.

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Other suggestions on social media include a rebranding as simply FB or, less likely, the return of “the Facebook,” which was the platform’s original name.

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But for all Zuckerberg’s attempts to avoid facing real scrutiny for the multiple failures of his platform, the New York Times reported Wednesday morning that the CEO’s name would be attached to a lawsuit being brought by the attorney general of the District of Columbia, Karl Racine.

The lawsuit relates to a complaint filed in 2018 that alleges Facebook misled users about privacy by allowing Cambridge Analytica to hoover up the personal information of 87 million users—including more than half the District’s residents.

The move would, for the first time, expose Zuckerberg himself to possible financial and other penalties.

Tagged:

virtual reality, Mark Zuckerberg, fb, rebranding, meta, Disinfo Dispatch

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