The new name applies to the parent company, which owns Instagram, WhatsApp and other properties. Facebook, the social network, where users post personal updates and share photos and videos, will not change its name.
"Mark Zuckerberg is rebranding the company to make sure that investor and the world community knows this and it’s going to put in billions of dollars to support that," said tech and businesses expert Shibani Joshi.
"We are a company that builds technology to connect," Zuckerberg said, according to the Verge. "Together, we can finally put people at the center of our technology. And together, we can unlock a massively bigger creator economy."
The change comes at a time that the Menlo Park company is embattled with controversy over allegations of misinformation spread on Facebook about elections, COVID vaccines and other divisive topics.
"This is a way to distance itself from all of the heat that its gotten and really deservedly so," Joshi said. "What Mark Zuckerberg is trying to get to and get at is that he believes that the future and the next platform for social media is going to be this integrated digital platform that converges online, virtual reality, augment reality all in this new sort of sci-fi universe," said Joshi.
This announcement about the name change was made at the yearly Connect Conference.
The metaverse is a virtual space where people can be present with friends and family like they’re there in person, Zuckerberg said.
Within the last week, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified for the world that the social media giant stokes online hate and extremism, fails to protect children from harmful content and lacks any incentive to fix the problems, providing momentum for efforts by European governments working on stricter regulation of tech companies.
Speaking to British lawmakers, Haugen said she was "shocked" to hear that Facebook wants to double down on what Zuckerberg calls "the metaverse," the company’s plan for an immersive online world it believes will be the next big internet trend.
The company last month delayed plans for a kids’ version of Instagram, geared toward those under 13, in order to address concerns about the vulnerability of younger users.