Do you remember Tronc? Neither does anyone else. Tribune Publishing Company’s attempt to rebrand itself as a digital-first media company met with much criticism, and the company eventually reversed course to return to their legacy name. Will Facebook suffer a similar fate? Last week, the social media platform announced a rebrand and a new name – Meta – to better reflect that the company is much more than a social network.
A new chapter for the internet
“We are at the beginning of the next chapter for the internet, and it’s the next chapter for our company too,” wrote Mark Zuckerberg last week. “The next platform will be even more immersive — an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it. We call this the metaverse, and it will touch every product we build.”
“Building social apps will always be important for us, and there’s a lot more to build. But increasingly, it’s not all we do. In our DNA, we build technology to bring people together. The metaverse is the next frontier in connecting people, just like social networking was when we got started,” Zuckerberg said.
“Right now our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything we’re doing today, let alone in the future. Over time, I hope we are seen as a metaverse company, and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we’re building towards,” added Zuckerberg.
Facebook has faced scrutiny for years on many fronts, most recently after the release of what has been called the Facebook Papers, a series of documents released by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen. The documents show questionable internal decisions by Zuckerberg and flaws in the social media platform’s moderation. For example, President Joe Biden has criticized Facebook for the rampant growth of misinformation about COVID and COVID vaccines, reports The Verge.
According to The Verge, Zuckerberg said the company is not trying to avoid bad press with the name change. In fact, Meta’s CEO said that “had nothing to bear on this. 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.”
Criticism over new name
Critics of Facebook took to Twitter after the company’s new name was revealed.
Even Twitter got in on the action.
This is a tough one. We can see both sides. Yes, Facebook is more than a social media platform, and the internet will look vastly different in the coming years. It is understandable that Meta will encompass Facebook and the company’s other assets and its vision for the future.
But the timing is suspect. It was likely already in the works when word “leaked” out that a name change was coming. We think the rebranding was accelerated so Facebook could take control of the narrative and distract people from the Facebook Papers with a new name. Facebook is, of course, free to do as it pleases, but rebranding does not always (or often) produce the desired results. Just think of Alphabet, the artist formerly known as Prince and Tronc. They each had different reasons for their name changes, but we still think of them as Google, Prince and Tribune Publishing.