Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced his company has changed its name.
The announcement of the new name Meta came on Thursday (28 October) during a presentation that showcased Facebook’s work on virtual reality technologies.
It also saw Mr Zuckerberg state that the Silicon Valley giant will now be primarily focusing on the metaverse rather than its social media apps.
So, will this move change anything for the billions of people who use Facebook’s apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp - and why was the name Meta chosen?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is Meta?
Meta is the new name for Mark Zuckerberg’s business empire - a company that now extends beyond social media apps and into the design and manufacture of new technologies.
In the lead up to the announcement, there was speculation about a potential name change as Facebook had covered the logo at its Californian HQ with a ‘like’ emoji.
But while the parent company is now no longer known as Facebook, the Facebook name will live on in the form of the social media app.
Indeed, day-to-day users of Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp will be unlikely to see any changes to do with the name change.
Explaining the move, Mr Zuckerberg said, “increasingly, [Facebook] just doesn’t encompass everything we do.
“Building our social media apps will always be an important focus for us but right now our entire brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything that we’re doing today, let alone in the future.”
“Over time, I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company. And I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we’re building towards.”
It’s a move that echoes what Google did when it changed the name of its parent company to Alphabet in 2015, to represent its shift beyond simply being a search engine.
The other key announcement Mr Zuckerberg made was about Meta’s ‘North Star’ - business jargon for what a company’s purpose is.
He said Meta was “going to be metaverse first, not Facebook first”.
Essentially, it means Facebook will no longer be the company’s main focus.
Instead, it will pour its resources into constructing virtual reality products.
Longer-term, Mr Zuckerberg said it would also mean people wouldn’t need to use Facebook to use the company’s other services.
What is a metaverse?
A metaverse is an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment.
The term refers to a cyberspace parallel to physical reality where a community of people can interact in the form of avatars.
This is possible through the merging of physical, augmented, and virtual reality.
This world already exists today through Meta-owned brand Oculus, which will itself be re-branded to Meta Quest in 2022, as well as Meta’s collaboration with glasses manufacturer Ray-Ban that allows users to see social media notifications via their glasses or sunglasses.
In his presentation, Mark Zuckerberg showed how his new metaverse concept ‘Horizon’ could apply to our future lives.
For example, he demonstrated how it could be used to hold realistic work meetings and help with education.
A version of this article originally appeared on NationalWorld.com