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Mark Zuckerberg has announced a rebrand for Facebook, which is not a surprising move considering how much bad press the social media company tends to stir up. The Facebook Company is hereby called Meta – but why the change, and what does this mean for the Facebook app and all the other brands it owns?

First up, it’s worth noting that Facebook itself – the social network with the iconic blue logo – isn’t changing. Your account won’t change and you won’t need to download a new app. But Meta is now Facebook’s parent company, looking over Facebook alongside all the other stuff the company has bought over the years. If you weren’t aware, that includes WhatsApp, Instagram, and virtual reality company Oculus. And much more.

The rebrand is to distance those other ventures from the public perception of Facebook, as the company’s interests diversify into what Zuckerberg calls “the metaverse” – a futuristic term that broadly means the high-tech connected future we’ll all live in once conventional computing is considered old hat. He says Meta a social technology company rather than simply a social media one like Facebook was.

But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s not just these futuristic ambitions that prompted the rebrand. Facebook is almost perpetually in hot water for something or other – it’s currently reeling from the leaked documents and whistleblower testimony that reveal how it consistently puts “profits before people.” A big name change will get people talking and is a great distraction from the stuff that really matters.

That said, however cynical you want to be about Facebook’s aims, it probably does make sense to shift away from a name that’s so heavily tied to a single product. Google did the same thing back in 2015 by putting its Google search projects and all the other stuff it owns – like YouTube – under a new parent company called Alphabet. What Facebook is doing is exactly the same, though – like Alphabet – Meta may struggle to get everyday folks on board with the new name.

For good or ill, Facebook will always be Facebook

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