Facebook name change: will social media giant rebrand, how it could affect users - and what is the metaverse?

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Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook ‘will effectively transition from a social media company to being a metaverse company’ - but what does that mean?

Reports suggest that Facebook may change its name as part of a major company re-brand.

According to tech news site The Verge, CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to talk about the potential name change at the company’s annual Connect conference on 28 October.

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However, the new name could be unveiled even sooner than that, as Facebook seeks to be seen as more than just a social media provider.

But what does this mean for the average Facebook user?

Here is everything you need to know.

Will Facebook change its name?

If the Facebook name change does go ahead, it seems unlikely it will affect users of the social media platform in any meaningful way.

That’s because the entity in question is the Facebook umbrella company, which owns the Facebook social media platform, as well as others like Instagram and WhatsApp.

For a better idea of how it could work, think back to Google’s rebranding in 2015.

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The Google search engine still exists as it always did of course, but it is now technically owned, not by Google, but by the Alphabet holding company.

That move was made to signal to consumers that the company was more than just a search engine, but a diverse conglomerate of interlinked ventures, which provides everything from emails to driverless cars.

As Zuckerberg and Facebook look to prove they’re not just about social media - an arm of the company which has come under scrutiny recently after the damning testimony of former employee turned whistleblower, Frances Haugen - a similar rebranding could be in the works.

So, in short, any re-brand should not affect users of the Facebook social media platform; that app will likely still exist as it does today, but the name of its parent company will have changed.

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What could Facebook change its name to?

If the name change does go ahead, it’s not yet known what new moniker Facebook could choose.

Google’s switch to Alphabet proved a fairly drastic change, but other similar re-brands - such as Snapchat’s makeover as Snap Inc. in 2016 - have been more subtle.

According to The Verge, “the new Facebook company name is a closely-guarded secret within its walls and not known widely, even among its full senior leadership.”

However, they speculate that a new name “could have something to do with Horizon, the name of the still-unreleased VR version of Facebook-meets-Roblox that the company has been developing for the past few years.”

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What is the metaverse?

Amongst all the rumours of a name change, one phrase that is popping up regularly is “metaverse”.

In July, Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge that, over the next several years, Facebook “will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.”

But what does that mean?

Originally coined by sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson, the term “metaverse” describes a virtual world people escape to from a dystopian, real world.

Think of it as a seamless, interconnected portfolio of apps and software, an always online second digital reality to which users can escape to at any time.

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The metaverse is in essence the internet in 3D, an online world in which people can meet, play and work virtually, often using virtual reality headsets.

Speaking in July, Zuckerberg described it as a place where rather than just viewing content “you are in it”, and as an early example has used the idea of people watching a concert video on their smartphone but then jumping in it using the metaverse to create the sense they are really there.

It sounds like the stuff of science-fiction, but it’s a very tangible model that Facebook is actively pursuing; this summer it set up a dedicated metaverse team, and announced plans to hire 10,000 more employees to work on it in Europe.

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.

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“And I think it’s going to be the next big chapter for our company too, really doubling down in this area.”

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