With around 2.91 billion users as of recently, Facebook dominates rival social media platforms and remains the biggest global social network, as the company has also acquired social media giants WhatsApp and Instagram.
As today’s generation continues to grow pragmatically dependent on social media, and with technology promptly and effectively advancing, the following question is posed – as Facebook rebrands to Meta and integrates the physical world with the digital, is this a step in the right direction for the future of the brand?
Meta and its new functionalities
Facebook – designed as an efficient and extraordinary method to connect a variety of people across the globe, despite differences in culture, race and linguistics – has seen a dramatic increase in its users over recent years.
However, on 28th October 2021, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be rebranding to Meta with the aid of virtual reality in a futuristic attempt to “bring people together.”
The Metaverse, objecting to be “the successor to the mobile internet”, as proposed by Zuckerberg himself, will serve as a safe digital space in which people from various locations are able to connect for social, creative, gaming or work-related reasons by the means of a VR headset.
So, why the name change? Zuckerberg claims that this is to highlight the significant changes happening within the company – specifically the company branching out and expanding to offer a variety of products. This comes as Zuckerberg uses the fundamental concept of fusing social media with VR technology in a bid to explore new possibilities.
Technology has become a defining attribute of society; a tool which has endless functionalities ranging from promoting business development to aiding the healthcare sector. And, with technology rapidly advancing, and the demand for it increasing, what does this mean for Meta?
One of the most significant attributes of the Metaverse is that the latter is able to immerse the user into a virtual environment via a VR headset, allowing users to create an avatar and meet up with friends or co-workers. And, as the effects of Covid-19 are still unravelling in relation to people, businesses and the economy, the Metaverse is being laboriously recommended as an important business tool for remote working.
A recent FlexJobs’ Survey reported that 58% of adults would like to be full-time remote employee’s post-pandemic, with another 39% of people desiring a hybrid work environment. This works wonderfully in Zuckerberg’s favour, as Meta adopts the ability to serve as a remote platform for professional workers, alongside the numerous other features it has to offer.
Virtual reality – despite being a new and modern industry – has seen an impressive development as of recent years and is on its way to becoming a core defining attribute of future society. Global revenue generated from gaming through the virtual reality industry has seen a mass incline since 2017. It is estimated that by 2024, it will generate a staggering $2.4 billion (approx. £1.8 billion).
Investment in the virtual reality sector is also expected to see a rise, with $17.6 billion (approx. £1.3 billion) estimated to be invested in VR gaming and VR video/feature viewing by 2024.
Zuckerberg’s decision to rebrand to Meta and incorporate virtual reality technology can be seen as an extremely clever and strategic business move.
A new beginning after a storm of scandals?
In all its previous years, Facebook has not encountered great difficulty generating income, as annual revenue generated in 2020 was $85,965 (£64,314.71) – a notable incline to its previous year, which produced $70,697 (£52,898.68) in revenue.
And post-Zuckerberg’s announcement of Meta, Facebook’s stock prices saw a prompt incline of 1.51% – a positive financial foundation for the rebrand. However, as of 8th November, Facebook – alongside shares of other Meta Platforms – saw a decline of 0.74% in stock markets.
This comes after its competitor Microsoft Corp received an increase in stocks of 0.28%. This is not the only challenge the company has been struck with. For example, computer company Meta PC, known for selling gaming laptops and computer accessories, already filed to trademark the name Meta in August – two months prior to the rebrand of Facebook. The company is persistent on maintaining the trademarked name, that is unless Zuckerberg purchases it for £20 million.
Zuckerberg’s rebranding of Facebook also comes after recent exposure to his company by whistle-blower, Frances Haugen. Former Facebook employee Haugen – who disclosed a mass amount of Facebook’s internal and confidential documents to The Wall Steet Journal and Securities and Exchange Commission – has even stated that Mark Zuckerberg should quit Facebook due to her concerns for the safety of its users, arguing that the company is excessively focused on profits instead of the well-being and mental health of its users.
Indeed, Facebook is no stranger to scandals. In June 2019 the Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $5 billion (approx. £3.7 billion) as a consequence of privacy violations, and Facebook agreed to pay £500,000 for exposing the confidential data of its users. Other privacy breaches include the Cambridge Analytica data scandal where 87 million Facebook users had their data being advertised without consent during elections in 2018.
Despite its groundbreaking decision to fuse social media with VR, offering fresh products and concepts to society under a new name, Facebook still faces an element of outrage from the public and its reputation seems to be intricately tied to its previous scandals.
With this being said, only time will be able to tell if this is perhaps the greatest, or worst, decision Zuckerberg has made for his company.