As most of us were made aware via the decidedly cringe address from founder Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook’s annual Connect Conference last month, Facebook Inc. has changed its name to… Meta.
According to Zuckerberg, this was done in order to reflect its growing focus on the “metaverse”, which is a conversation for another article – thankfully, we have your curiosity covered.
So as not to upset the Facebook censors crawling this page, allow me to offer a little context…
In recent years Facebook Inc. has become embroiled in a colorful variety of scandals including but definitely not limited to a 2018 FTC violation landing the company a $5 Billion fine (a record, beating out Pfizer, Merck, and Enron) for user privacy violations, the Cambridge Analytica conspiracy that involved FB’s use of improperly obtained data from over 87 million users that helped sway the 2016 elections, it’s rampant censorship of posts concerning anything from vaccine side effects to mainstream conservative views; many such accusations being legitimized by in-depth exposes by Project Veritas and various inside whistleblowers. I could go on. But of course, the name change has nothing to do with any of this, says Zuckerberg:
“Even though I think some people might want to make that connection, I think that’s sort of a ridiculous thing. If anything, I think that this is not the environment that you would want to introduce a new brand in.”
And just when you thought the controversy couldn’t be compounded any further, it turns out Facebook isn’t the first company to use the name “Meta”.
In a letter from Chicago based tech firm MetaCompany, recently released publicly, CEO Nate Skulic claims that Facebook Inc. tried and failed to buy the name from them in late October 2021 before disregarding any potential legal hangups and just announcing their ownership of the name in one of the most awkward attempts at sincerity and connection I have ever personally witnessed.
The letter, which Skulic says “may be regarded as a public cease and desist”, opens with a candor characteristic of impending legal action, reading:
“For the last three months, Facebook lawyers have been hounding us to sell our name to them. We refused their offer on multiple bases. Namely, the low offer wouldn’t cover the costs of changing our name, and we insisted on knowing the client and intent, which they did not want to disclose.”
Shocking, I know.
The letter is an uncomfortable prospectus of Meta’s (facebook’s) recent PR crises, including such wicked burns as:
“They couldn’t buy us, so they tried to bury us by force of media. We shouldn’t be surprised by these actions — from a company that continually says one thing and does another. Facebook and its operating officers are deceitful and acting in bad faith, not only towards us, but to all of humanity.”
For most intents and purposes of the average internet user, Facebook’s name change is at present more or less meaningless, except as a reminder of the company’s aim at an ever more pervasive presence in the lives of its users. For everyone else, only time will tell.
As of the date of this article’s publication, Meta (the Facebook one) has yet to acknowledge the existence of MetaCompany’s (The original one’s) letter.
Let’s hope it doesn’t take this evolving into another PR meltdown to change that.