- Facebook ‘the company’ has a new name, Meta
- Rebrand inspired by head honcho Mark Zuckerberg’s Greek studies (classic!)
- But it’s still the same company – the new name doesn’t come with a new board or attitude
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”? Not when Facebook metastasises to become Meta it doesn’t.
When corporations find themselves so beset by problems that they face an imminent existential threat, one way to divert attention from the rot at the centre is to change both name and logo. It has happened many times before – Facebook is just the latest to do so. It will now be called Meta Platforms Inc., to give it its full name, but will called Meta by all and sundry around the world and to infinity and beyond. How meta is that?
Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg remains CEO of his umbrella empire, part of which will still be the social network that will still be called Facebook: Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp will also retain their names.
Meta’s corporate structure will be the same as Facebook’s was and the senior executive team will remain unchanged and in situ. In due course it may well be that someone else will be put nominally in charge of Facebook, the tail that wags the dog, and Nick Clegg will have put a few extra hours for a while, justifying his gargantuan salary by coming up with oleaginous spiel to slip under the door of the PR department for them to write up and slide out to a world waiting with bated breath to learn what Zuckerberg intends to sell to them next.
Meanwhile, the crisis surrounding Facebook continues to deepen and all the bugle-oil being lavished on the metaverse won’t prevent various nations moving to cut Zuckerberg (for he is the one seemingly in unassailable charge of the whole thing) down to size.
Along with the new name comes a new logo. It is a take on the globally recognisable infinity symbol invented in 1655 by the English mathematician John Wallis. He distinguished three types of infinity; the mathematical, the physical, and the metaphysical (had he been around today, it would, of course have been the metaversical). The new logo bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Virgin Media, apart from the fact that Virgin’s is red and Meta’s is blue. It also rather like a Möbius strip, one-sided surface that can be made at home by gluing together both ends of a rectangular strip of paper after first having given one of the ends a one-half twist. The result is something having only one side and that will stay in one piece when it is split down the middle. What’s more, if an ant crawls along its length it will eventually return to the point it started from having traversed “both” sides of the paper without ever having crossed an edge.
Which brings us back to Meta. Zuckerberg’s metaverse seems to be a 3D-rendered Internet and virtual environment where, via VR headsets and other clever kit, people can meet, work and play and even live as avatars whilst their physical bodies cower in underground shelters safe from the scorching winds of a ravaged climate-changed world. What a utopia it will be.
Commenting on the re-branding, Zuckerberg said, “Today we are seen as a social media company but in our DNA we are a company that builds technology to connect people.”
And he gave the rebranding an educational twist. “I used to study Classics, and the word “meta” comes from the Greek word meaning “beyond”. For me, it symbolizes that there is always more to build, and there is always a next chapter to the story,” Zuckerberg wrote in this blog.
But as with many words derived from Greek or Latin, there are other meanings: Amusingly, the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, sent a tweet quoting a dictionary definition of “Meta” – it is something that “refers to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential.” Yup, that nails it.
Meanwhile, “The Real Facebook Oversight Board” that tracks Facebook’s antics and convulsions says it won’t be re-branding as “Changing a name doesn’t change reality: Facebook is destroying our democracy and is the world’s leading peddler of disinformation and hate. Their meaningless name change should not distract from the investigation, regulation and real, independent oversight needed to hold Facebook accountable.”
Hopefully, it won’t. For historical purposes it should be remembered that 17 years ago as an undergraduate at Harvard University, the adolescent Zuckerberg was coding a site that would eventually become Facebook. It featured photos of the faces of (mainly female) Harvard students that users could rate in order of attractiveness. “FaceMash” involved hacking into university’s security system and copying the student ID images needed for them get into dormitories. It was shut down within a few days and Zuckerberg came within an ace of being expelled from Harvard. He wasn’t, though, and duly went on to co-found Facebook, dropping out of the university when out became evident it could be a money-spinning commercial proposition.
The rest, as they say, is history. And now, with due deference to William Hughes Mearns, who wrote the poem “Antigonish" back in 1899, here’s a touch of Friday poesy:
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I Meta man who wasn't there!
He wasn't there again today,
I wish the Zuck, he’d go away!
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