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  • Arun Gopidas

Facebook becomes Meta (An Opinion Piece)

Facebook has undergone a name change for the first time since 2004 when it launched (If you ignore the minor change in 2005 when they dropped ‘the’ from ‘The Facebook’)

Facebook’s current rebrand hardly comes as a surprise given that Facebook has been struggling with its public image since 2016 (When Trump won US elections), followed by the Cambridge Analytica Scandal and multiple other accidents & mistakes that led them to be under severe scrutiny & criticism over data & privacy concerns.

This is (in my opinion) what caused the Facebook rebrand of 2019, where the effort was to let users know which company makes the products they use every day. A strategic move to borrow some of the positive emotions associated with the products they owned. But this failed to generate the results they hoped for.

In September of 2020, The Social Dilemma was released on Netflix, which was seen by 38 million viewers (making it the second most-watched documentary on Netflix). This documentary highlighted the severity of the problems associated with using social media & how it affects our society on a deep psychological level.

This was quickly followed up by a communication disaster at the beginning of 2021 over Whatsapp’s ultimatum to accept new terms (for data sharing) or delete the app. This led to a severe backlash with a lot of users migrating to similar apps like Signal or Telegram.

Apple took another jab at Facebook when they rolled out an OS update that would let users choose if they wanted to be tracked or not. A move that positioned Apple as a champion for privacy and threw Facebook at the other end of the spectrum. While Facebook rolled out full-page advertisements to defend its objectives and to shine a light on how Apple’s policy would disrupt small business owners, this muddied the Facebook brand more than ever.

Facebook’s latest rebrand to Meta seems like a good move in desperate times. While a name change could definitely help move away from their tarnished image, it also comes at a time when NFTs & VR/AR adoption is picking up. I couldn’t help noticing the number of subtle references to NFT integrations in Facebook’s (or Meta’s) Connect 2021. With an investment of at least $10 Billion into this, it does seem like the race to first movers advantage is picking up with other tech giants like Apple & Google also investing heavily in building products around these technologies.

But let’s take a step back & talk about their new visual identity as well. While they have retained the color blue to indicate its legacy, they created a logo that looks like an infinity symbol & a Morbius strip.

What really impresses me about this new identity is that it’s designed to work in 2D & 3D environments. While that’s definitely delightful to see, it’s also strategic storytelling to imply their focus on building an augmented virtual world.

While the decision to rebrand to Meta overall seems like a safe bet. What would be interesting to see in this future is how Meta would address concerns over privacy in their hyper-connected metaverse (or if Meta would ever be able to heal the scars left by Facebook).

What are your thoughts on Facebook’s latest rebrand? Feel free to leave a comment below!

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