Tech

The creator of the term 'metaverse' wants people to know he has 'nothing to do' with Facebook's Meta plans

Business Insider US
Neal Stephenson
Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch
  • Author Neal Stephenson said he isn't advising Facebook on its vision for the metaverse.
  • Stephenson coined the term 'metaverse' in his 1992 sci-fi book "Snow Crash."
  • Facebook changed its name to Meta amid scandals stemming from documents leaked by a whistleblower.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Facebook changed its name to Meta this week amid a wave of scandals, in what some believes was the hope of distracting people with its massive investment in a virtual world that CEO Mark Zuckerberg called a "metaverse."

That's causing some headaches for the creator of term.

Sci-fi author Neal Stephenson, who first coined the term in his 1992 book "Snow Crash," on Friday took to social media to let people know he is definitely not involved in the company's efforts to make the metaverse some sort of reality.

"Since there seems to be growing confusion on this: I have nothing to do with anything that FB is up to involving the Metaverse, other than the obvious fact that they're using a term I coined in Snow Crash," Stephenson tweeted.

"There has been zero communication between me and FB & no biz relationship," he added.

Stephenson told Vanity Fair in 2017 that he was just "making shit up" when he first wrote about the idea of a metaverse - generally thought of as a digital world in which people operate via virtual and augmented reality-powered avatars, allowing them to straddle both digital and physical spaces - with the lines between each becoming blurred.

As part of Facebook's reorganisation into Meta, the company is killing its Oculus VR headset brand, renaming it Meta Quest. It made other structural changes to reflect an increased focus on metaverse-related endeavours that Zuckerberg spoke about during the annual Facebook Connect conference Thursday.

The rebrand also came as Meta and its flagship product, Facebook, faced an onslaught of public scrutiny over revelations that the company knew far more about how the social network harms individuals and society than it had previously admitted.

The revelations came from documents leaked to the US Congress, regulators, and the press by whistleblower and ex-Facebook employee Frances Haugen.

Zuckerberg on Thursday said it was "ridiculous" to think he changed Facebook's name to distract people from the company's latest controversies.

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