Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on April 11, 2018.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
  • Facebook said Thursday that it's changing its name to Meta.
  • The company's main social app will exist under the new brand umbrella.
  • Facebook's name change comes amid a sweeping public backlash against the company.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Facebook said Thursday it's changing its name to Meta.

The name change will affect the corporate entity that owns them, but not the platforms that company owns, including Whatsapp, Instagram, and the Facebook site.

But the Facebook product will no longer be what the company is about, said CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

See also | Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram are morphing into Meta – in a logo

"It is time for us to adopt a new company brand to encompass everything that we do," Zuckerberg said. "From now on we're going to be metaverse first, not Facebook first."

The company also unveiled a new sign at its California head office, a blue infinity shape.

Facebook debuts its new company brand, Meta, at their headquarters on October 28, 2021 in Menlo Park, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Facebook)

The much-anticipated name change comes a week after The Verge first reported the company was rebranding to focus on its "metaverse" mission.

Zuckerberg first publicly announced in July that he wants Facebook to eventually become a "metaverse company." Last week, the company said it would hire 10,000 people across Europe specifically to build out its metaverse project.

The metaverse is a virtual space where people can interact digitally while remaining tethered to the physical world.

See also | Facebook says its hiring 10,000 people to help build Mark Zuckerberg's 'metaverse'

Facebook's main social app would exist underneath the new brand name, as would the rest of the company's products, like Horizon and WhatsApp. It's a bit like Google existing under the Alphabet umbrella.

Journalist Kara Swisher reported Wednesday, citing multiple sources, that a major corporate restructure could be underway, with Zuckerberg becoming executive of the new holding company and someone else assuming his role as Facebook CEO. Such a move could remove some of the pressure from Zuckerberg, who bears a negative association with the platform's woes.

Facebook has faced a rocky few weeks after leaked documents exposed the company's controversial business practices. It has increasingly emphasised its mission into the metaverse, which has served as a welcome distraction for the company.

See also | A name change won't be enough to shield Facebook from the latest backlash prompted by leaked documents

But while experts previously told Insider that the metaverse emphasis is a "genius" marketing move, the company isn't exactly free from the problems that have caused such a widespread public backlash. And the name change itself isn't enough to save it from the torrent of criticism.

The company is likely trying to "divert the conversation from their current problems onto the metaverse, which is exciting and futuristic," Anne Olderog - senior partner at the consulting firm Vivaldi with 20 years of brand strategy experience - told Insider. "And truly, nobody understands" the metaverse, which is "also a brilliant move."

She also said the name change is exciting and creates momentum, but the public "can definitely see through things like that at this stage."

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