Facebook hopes its rebrand and new focus to build the metaverse will drown out a torrent of controversies, lawsuits, and damaging leaks.
The news: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced the world’s largest social media firm will rebrand to reflect its mission of building the metaverse, i.e. a digital world in which people will interact via virtual and augmented reality.
PR 101: The rebrand will reposition Facebook as one of many apps within the entity’s corral, which includes Instagram, Whatsapp, Oculus, and many more. Facebook is following Google's and Philip Morris' example by creating an umbrella organization and new corporate identity. Facebook hopes a rebrand will also distance it from recent scrutiny after a whistleblower testified to Congress about Facebook's "prioritization of profits over safety."
Metaverse vision: Zuckerberg thinks of the metaverse as the successor to the mobile internet. It won’t be built by a single company, but Facebook hopes to be the leader in a decentralized ecosystem of builders. The company pledged $50M to build it in a "responsible manner" and wants to hire 10,000 European engineers for the effort. He added that the metaverse will be accessible across VR, AR, PC, mobile devices, and game consoles.
The background: Facebook is dealing with a PR clusterf*** the likes of which it hasn’t experienced since the 2016 Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company’s rebranding effort aims to shift attention away from Facebook’s social media challenges and onto its vision for transforming the future of socializing, office work, and entertainment.
"You can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it. And you feel present with other people as if you were in other places, having different experiences that you couldn’t necessarily do on a 2D app or webpage, like dancing, for example, or different types of fitness." —Zuckerberg
Why rebranding could work: PR experts told Business Insider that Facebook’s rebranding effort is a “classic” and “genius” move. The company hopes to "divert the conversation from their current problems onto the metaverse, which is exciting and futuristic,” said Anne Olderog, a senior partner at the consulting firm Vivaldi. The fact that many people are unfamiliar with the metaverse is also a “brilliant move,” she added, as it compels people to ask new questions and shifts their attention.
Why it may not: If Facebook doesn’t fix its trust issue or address its other array of problems, a metaverse will only exacerbate its challenges.
"Ultimately, you really need to do the fundamental work of addressing the problems because otherwise, you're going to replicate the very same problems they're now facing on the metaverse level.” —Anne Olderog told Business Insider
Whistleblowing: Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked thousands of internal documents she says prove Facebook violated U.S. securities laws, knowingly harms children, has repeatedly lied to the public about its platform, and more. Haugen shared the documents with Congress, U.S. regulators, and The Wall Street Journal, which has published a series called the Facebook Files.
Tip of the iceberg: The number of Facebook scandals seems to be growing by the day. Here’s a quick recap of the biggest stories and allegations.
Name bets: There’s been an endless supply of name suggestions clowning Facebook’s rebrand. The leading bet is “Virtuel” at +400 odds. Other bets include “Connect” at +500 odds, “Horizon” at +500, “Ecoverse” at +700, “Immerse” at +800 and “Metabook” at +800.
Facebook earnings: Facebook announced its 3Q earnings Monday, reporting revenues of $29.01 billion, down slightly from the $29.57 billion analysts expected, according to Refinitiv. The company notched 1.93 billion daily active users for September 2021 — an increase of 6% year-over-year. Facebook anticipates Q4 revenues to hit between $31.5 to $34 billion.
What do you think about Facebook’s rebrand? Any name suggestions? Share your comments below.