Facebook, Meta, say what? You must have heard it in the news when it first came out. The well-known company Facebook went on to rebrand and officially became Meta on December 1st, 2021. What has changed and why the name change is only a small part of the complete roadmap, we tell you in this article. We also look at the challenges in the field of privacy and security. let’s go?
What is Meta?
Meta is simply the former Facebook. Facebook started out in America as a networking concept. Students from universities, in the beginning only Harvard where Zuckerberg studied, could find each other online, after which this was expanded further. Over the years, interest has increased, making it a worldwide popular concept.
Facebook has long ceased to be an ordinary networking site, as the company has taken over several other social sites. The company belongs to the well-known Big Five, next to Amazon, Apple, Alphabet & Microsoft. These are the initiatives currently under the company:
Why the Meta rebrand?
Now you may be thinking: why the name change? Well, I’ll tell you. Mark Zuckerberg goes all-in on the Metaverse. His goal is to bring 1 billion people worldwide together in a virtual reality world, the metaverse. Here you can not only meet and play games but also use social media and shop. Later in this article, I’ll take you into what the metaverse is, but first, we’ll dive into relevant Meta news.
Meta on the stock exchange
Actually, it’s better to call it Facebook’s IPO, because that’s what the company was called at the time, of course. It was preceded by a lot of speculation, but in May 2012 the time had finally come. A share cost $38 at the time, but soon after the IPO, the price immediately.
Not only did the share drop, but the number of users also decreased. This raised serious questions about the IPO, the trading price, and the future of the hitherto large company. The price continued to slide for a while until it hit rock bottom at $19 per share. It took no less than a year (!) until the price rose again to above the issue price.
In the years that followed, the price remained almost stable, until the moment in 2018: July 26. The price entered a dip and lost 20%, making Meta worth $110 billion in one fell swoop. Especially in Europe, the number of users decreased, which was definitely not expected by the company.
The Facebook Files
Facebook has already survived several hurdles, including the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, stricter privacy laws in Europe, and changes in advertising policies. A while ago, the company was under further pressure with the ‘The Facebook Files’ hype.
After the rebranding in October 2021, Zuckerberg is under considerable pressure. There has been a lot of commentary on the flawed functioning of his company’s apps, as a rebranding doesn’t solve or contribute anything at all. The media is increasing the pressure by making thousands of internal documents public. This exposes all the company’s weaknesses, which is of course no pleasant surprise for the CEO.
What’s in the Facebook Files?
Why are those Facebook Files so sensitive? Well, because it’s about protecting the weak and, of course, an overall sense of duty. For example, consider the fact that Instagram has a very bad influence on the self-image of teenagers. Facebook knows this, but does not intervene and invites teenagers to participate.
You would think that everyone can and should do the same on Facebook’s platforms, but there are exceptions for an elitist group of actors, athletes, and popular figures. They flout the rules and are not punished for this, as is the case with ordinary people (you and me).
Whistleblower Frances Haugen also revealed in October 2021 that Facebook was contributing to the storming of the Capitol. By disabling the security measures, the social platform had its share of the out-of-control situation, which certainly did not slow down the storming in Washington. Of course, this was denied by the media mogul, but we all know how things sometimes go in the world…
Where is Meta’s focus?
Where previously the focus was on connection and contact, this will now be shifted. It is not just a name change, but a complete rebranding. Meta will focus on new pillars, such as fun, friends, family, reality & apps. Or, as Mark himself puts it: ‘From now on, we’re going to be metaverse-first, not Facebook-first.’
Where we as users are mainly looking for a connection with each other, with our passions, activities, and future, it is different for Meta. We are looking for the right technology and would like to use it, but Meta wants to develop this technology for us.
Metaverse is a future ‘virtual’ reality, but what exactly will this mean and what role does Zuckerberg want to play with his company?
What is metaverse?
If you want to take a deep dive into the metaverse, then I recommend reading this article. For the connection between Meta and the metaverse, I will build a small bridge here. Because strangely enough, the whole virtual reality idea stems from a 1992 Sci-Fi book, Snow Crash.
The metaverse is a virtual, shared space, which is formed by the combination of the internet, augmented reality, and virtual reality. Everything comes together in this futuristic world, through existing, shared, and 3D virtual spaces.
Since Meta’s mission is – and Facebook’s was – ‘connecting people / bringing people together, it is only a small step towards the metaverse. From this objective, it is also easy to understand that this fits in Zuckerberg’s vein. What is up for debate, however, is the fact that the metaverse is a world where people come together. And of course, that world shouldn’t be owned by anyone, let alone a big, powerful company.
What are Zuckerberg’s metaverse ambitions?
Bringing people together via a social platform? Facebook has been successful in this for years. The fact is, however, that we mainly experience the entire internet from behind our desk or from the lazy chair. We look at screens on which a flat 2D world fills our brains. Zuckerberg wants to see this more interactive and thinks that the metaverse can really help.
By coming together in 3D in a virtual world, the possibilities seem endless. You can meet, connect with each other and pull everything towards you. You no longer look into that world from your desk chair, but you are part of it.
Is the metaverse a safe thing?
Security and privacy are important when we talk about the metaverse. Facebook isn’t really known for excelling in this area. From hate speech to privacy scandals, it’s all happened in Facebook history.
Of course, privacy settings play a major role in this, because what does the platform know about you and what can you consciously protect? And then, how do you actually do that? Facebook is pretty limitless here, but hey, if you want to remain anonymous, you’d better ban your PC and smartphone…
In addition to the default settings, Facebook also uses your private data to advertise and target. This is banned in many countries unfair competition. By raising the rates and still using secret data, it is possible for the superpower to win more and more of advertising costs.
But just because Facebook is considered unsafe, or unfair, doesn’t mean that the metaverse is or will be unsafe. Safety is and remains a difficult subject because the frameworks are different for everyone. There are also dangers that you may not have taken into account yet, so why not read on?
What are the risks of the metaverse?
For starters, the metaverse is like an extra universe, so you have similar risks to your current day-to-day life. Think of advertisements, physical security risks, and privacy-related matters.
Let me first emphasize that ads are sometimes more in-depth than you think. It says something about your search behavior and therefore you as a person. Your interests, wishes, hobbies, and daily grind are thrown into your lap by means of ads. You need the expertise to protect yourself from this and of course also to prevent this personal information from being shared with the rest of the metaverse users.
What I do consider risky, and that has of course been factored in by Mark, is the fact that Meta is now considered the founder of the metaverse. This is the worst thing that could happen in my opinion, as the metaverse shouldn’t belong to one person, company, or owner. It is a world that we create, fill and utilize together. That’s where the power lies.
Then you might think: physical risks? Yes, because inherent to the metaverse is the VR glasses. You need this to imagine yourself in other dimensions, but because of this, you lose the realistic view for a while. Several accidents have already happened because people forget to clear the space and remove cables or other objects. VR already has countless accidents, where children or pets are hit by an object.
Marketing in the metaverse
Finally, privacy rules are of course not yet set for the future. We live in the now and with the arrival of the metaverse, this becomes many times more complex. For example, can you just record something in this new, attractive 3D world? What about the limits for marketers? Reaching adults in a permitted manner is one thing, but how do you ensure that children are and remain safe?
Games are already triggering them more and more and many children lose the sense of reality, but what about the experiences in the metaverse? Are they going to confuse this with the ‘offline’ world and get overconfident? Or really scared? What restrictions do marketers have for this and can they be enforced? Not to mention the data that is collected from brain waves. Yes, really…
My conclusion is that there is still a lot to discover. There are privacy issues, technical challenges, and much more. The fact that the metaverse will come is insurmountable and that Meta will play a role in this; is clear. Let’s guard against the fact that it’s going to become a Zuckerberg monopoly, by warming up infinite parties and users.