* New name may be announced next week - The Verge
* Co under scrutiny for handling of user safety, hate speech
* Zuckerberg pushing into augmented, virtual reality
Oct 20 (Reuters) - Facebook Inc, under fire from
regulators and lawmakers over its business practices, is
planning to rebrand itself with a new group name that focuses on
the metaverse https://www.reuters.com/technology/what-is-metaverse-2021-10-18,
the Verge reported on Tuesday.
The name change will be announced next week, The Verge
reported, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been talking up the
metaverse, a digital world where people can move between
different devices and communicate in a virtual environment,
since July, and the group has invested heavily in virtual
reality and augmented reality, developing hardware such as its
Oculus VR headsets and working on AR glasses and wristband
The move would likely position the flagship app as one of
many products under a parent company overseeing brands such as
Instagram and WhatsApp, according to the report. Google
adopted such a structure when it reorganized into a
holding company called Alphabet in 2015.
Facebook said it does not comment on "rumor or speculation."
If true, the rebranding would make sense as the core
Facebook business becomes less important to the group and it
seeks to revamp an image tarnished by regulatory and legal
scrutiny of how it handles user safety and hate speech, analysts
"It reflects the broadening out of the Facebook business.
And then, secondly, I do think that Facebook's brand is probably
not the greatest given all of the events of the last three years
or so," internet analyst James Cordwell at Atlantic Equities
Facebook is under wide-ranging scrutiny from global
lawmakers and regulators over its content moderation practices
and harms linked to its platforms, with internal documents
leaked by a whistleblower forming the basis for a U.S. Senate
hearing last week.
"Having a different parent brand will guard against having
this negative association transferred into a new brand, or other
brands that are in the portfolio," said Shankha Basu, associate
professor of marketing at University of Leeds.
Last month, Facebook appointed Andrew Bosworth, who heads up
the social media company's augmented reality and virtual reality
efforts, including products like its Oculus Quest VR headset, as
chief technology officer.
Metaverse, first coined in a dystopian novel three decades
earlier, is popular in Silicon Valley and has been referenced by
other tech firms such as Microsoft. The popular children's game
Roblox describes itself as a metaverse company. Epic
Games' Fortnite is also considered to be part of the metaverse.
Zuckerberg plans to talk about the name change at the
company's annual Connect conference on Oct. 28, but it could be
unveiled sooner, the Verge said.
(Reporting by Shivam Patel and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru and
Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; Additional reporting by Bhargav
Acharya and Juby Babu; Editing by Anil D'Silva Josephine Mason
and Mark Potter)