May 23, 2024

On Oct. 28, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced big news.

Facebook Inc. will now be named Meta.

During the Facebook Connect Conference in which the news was announced, Zuckerberg explained that Meta will “recast the company’s public image from battered social network to tech innovator focused on building the next generation of online interaction, known as the ‘metaverse.’”

The term “metaverse” was coined by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash”. It refers to immersive virtual spaces where people can play games, meet with colleagues and more.

Dr. Effat Zeidan, assistant professor of general education, explains this rebranding and the metaverse.

“The company has focused on connecting people through Facebook and other platforms,” Zeidan said. “However, they are now starting a new chapter in virtual reality. The rebranding has been strategically planned to highlight the new future and the new horizon of technological advancements the company will introduce to the market soon. The metaverse is the 3D space that allows for connections to be formed in a virtual world by bridging gaps of the physical world.”

As of now, Meta has three new technologies that it has created.

The first product is a pair of VR headsets, Quest 2. With Quest 2, people can play games, work out and watch entertainment in the virtual world by themselves or connect with friends.

The second is an app called Spark AR. Sparks is an editing app that allows for people to create their own virtual realities by uploading a picture or video and adding effects. These images and videos can be shared with Facebook contacts and on Facebook profiles.

The third technology is the Facebook x Ray-Bans smart glasses. These are glasses that hold “smart” capabilities, such as recording, playing music and taking photographs. To use the glasses, you must also have a Facebook profile.

By incorporating these new technologies into the metaverse, will it hurt or help Facebook itself?

Currently, Facebook has its own stream of problems.

As of July 2021, only 9% of Facebook users are between ages 18-25, and people under 30 spend less time on the site, according to Statista.

There has also been negative publicity about current ongoing lawsuits against Facebook concerning privacy issues, also the Federal Trade Commission claiming Facebook is a monopoly wiping out its competition.

Alina Filkowski, junior psychology major, thinks the metaverse will help the Facebook image.

“I think the metaverse could be a fresh start for Facebook,” Filkowski said. “The new technologies tied to Facebook will get people to create accounts and will hopefully get more young people on the app.”

Sarah Mandzok, freshman nursing student, is not quite sure Meta will help Facebook.

“Facebook itself is such an iconic name and brand, so by changing it, it could possibly harm the company and what people have previously always known Facebook to be,” Mandzok said.

Since Meta is only beginning to expand, there are still steps to be taken.

For example, the company has recently invested $50 million in programs it claims it will to ensure the Meta-world is built responsibly.

The investment programs include companies that will help ensure the new technologies meet regulatory and legal concerns, such as Seoul National University and Women in Immersive Tech.

Meta is also looking to hire, releasing a statement saying the goal is to create 10,000 new job positions.

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