New Identify for Fb? Critics Cry Smoke and Mirrors

Facebook critics pounced on a report Wednesday saying the social network is about to rename itself, arguing that it was trying to distract from recent scandals and controversy.

Tech news website The Verge’s report, which Facebook refused to acknowledge, said the contested company wanted to show its ambition to be more than a social media site.

But an activist group called The Real Facebook Oversight Board warned that major industries like oil and tobacco had renamed themselves to “divert attention from their problems.”

“Facebook believes rebranding can help them change the subject,” said the group’s statement, adding that the real problem is the need for oversight and regulation.

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told AFP: “We have no comment and do not confirm The Verge’s report.”

The Verge quoted an unnamed source as saying that the name would reflect Facebook’s efforts to build the “Metaverse,” a virtual reality version of the Internet that the tech giant sees as the future.

Facebook announced plans on Monday to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to build the Metaverse, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a leading proponent of the concept.


The announcement comes as Facebook grapples with the aftermath of a harmful scandal, major outages in its services, and rising demands for regulation to curb its vast influence.

The company faced a storm of criticism last month after former employee Frances Haugen leaked internal studies showing Facebook knew its websites could harm young people’s mental health.

The Washington Post last month suggested that Facebook’s interest in the metaverse “is part of a broader effort to rehabilitate the company’s reputation with policymakers and reposition Facebook to shape the regulation of next-wave Internet technologies.”

Silicon Valley analyst Benedict Evans argued that rebranding would ignore fundamental issues with the platform.

“If you rename a broken product, people will find out pretty quickly that this new brand has the same problems,” he tweeted.

“A better ‘rebranding’ approach is generally to fix the problem first and then create a new brand that reflects the new experience,” he added.

Google renamed itself Alphabet in 2015 as part of a corporate reorganization, but the online search and ad powerhouse remains its defining entity despite other activities like Waymo self-driving cars and Verily Life Sciences.

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