Facebook’s announcement of its new name “Meta” on Thursday has already brought widespread backlash across social media.
The social media Goliath debuted its new corporate name during the company’s annual Connect Conference. CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared in a video livestreamed by the company, explaining that the new name is meant to be a reflection of the company’s new direction in the metaverse:
“We are a company that builds technology to connect. Together, we can finally put people at the center of our technology. And together, we can unlock a massively bigger creator economy.”
“To reflect who we are and what we hope to build.”
Zuckerberg currently owns the domain name meta.com and the Twitter handle @meta.
Comedians, politicians, and everyday Twitter users have taken to the platform to criticize the company’s move, taking issue with the name itself while also accusing Facebook of attempting to distract from their recent controversies.
“Meta is such a low effort, first draft name that multiple consulting companies definitely got paid millions of dollars to come up with,” Tweeted comedian Mike Drucker, to over a thousand likes.
The Daily Show’s host Trevor Noah Tweeted a doctored clip created by the show that superimposes footage of the Capitol riots onto the Connect Conference live stream where Zuckerberg steps into an “augmented reality:”
Nobody asked for this new Facebook feature pic.twitter.com/18pHZUX3Ej
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) October 28, 2021
Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is known for using the platform to stage critiques, quote Tweeted a clip of Zuckerberg’s announcement and said that “Meta as in ‘we are a cancer to democracy metastasizing into a global surveillance and propaganda machine for boosting authoritarian regimes and destroying civil society… for profit!'” Over 90 thousand users liked her Tweet.
Facebook rebranding itself after damaging testimony, leaks
Many around the world see this year’s Connect and the massive brand overhaul that accompanies it as an effort to take attention away from a slew of recent problems, many of them brought to light by a whistleblower.
Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen charged in testimony before a Congressional subcommittee just weeks ago that Facebook executives were well aware of the social damage that it was allowing to take place on its platforms but did nothing to address the issue due to purely financial concerns.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg initially dismissed accusations that the company failed to stop the riots, telling Reuters in January that “We know this was organized online. We know that. We… took down QAnon, Proud Boys, Stop the Steal, anything that was talking about possible violence last week.
“Our enforcement’s never perfect so I’m sure there were still things on Facebook. I think these events were largely organized on platforms that don’t have our abilities to stop hate and don’t have our standards and don’t have our transparency.”
But the documents from Haugen’s leak tell a different story about the company’s efforts to stop the spread of information involved in the demonstration at the Capitol on January 6. Documents show that Facebook scrambled to control the information being spread on its platform long after the bulk of the activity had taken place, effectively trying to stop the demonstrators when it was already too late.