Facebook's iconic blue thumbs-up sign outside its Menlo Park headquarters at 1 Hacker Way came down on Thursday. It was replaced by a new logo -- a slightly compressed infinity sign in varying hues of blue -- as part of rebrand of the social media company, which is now called Meta.
In an online presentation on Thursday, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the rebrand is intended to emphasize his company's greater focus on what he calls the "metaverse," in which the digital and real world will collide.
In one demonstration, Zuckerberg is seen fully immersed in a virtual world, hosting a poker game with digital avatars, presumably controlled by real people while simultaneously holding video calls with others from the outside world.
"Facebook is one of the most-used products in the history of the world. It is an iconic social media brand, but increasingly, it just doesnt encompass everything we do," Zuckerberg said in the presentation. "I want to anchor our work and our identity in what we are building toward."
The social media app will still be called Facebook, and Instagram will still be Instagram. But much like Google's restructuring in 2015, which came with a name change to Alphabet, Facebook will use Meta as an umbrella term to encompass all of its products, which include WhatsApp and Oculus, the company's virtual reality headset brand, among others.
"When people buy our products, we want them to clearly understand that all of these devices come from Meta and ladder up to our metaverse vision," Andrew Bosworth, vice president of virtual and augmented reality at Facebook, wrote in a social media post.
While Meta may better reflect the company's new priorities, the name change also comes at a time when the social media giant is mired in mounting government and public scrutiny.
Earlier this month, after the company was already facing calls by lawmakers to be broken up into smaller companies, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, leaked troves of confidential documents, revealing how her employer was allegedly aware that its social media products like Instagram help spread disinformation and negatively impact tenaagers' mental health. The company has the tools to fix the problems, but chooses not to do anything about it, Haugen said.
"Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety," she said in a "60 Minutes" interview on Oct. 3.
Haugen, who joined Facebook in 2019 and was part of its civic integrity team, testified in a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Oct. 5, urging federal lawmakers to further regulate the company.
Zuckerberg and his company have since maintained that Haugen and the barrage of media reports that followed it have mischaracterized their intentions.
"It's disheartening to see that work taken out of context and used to construct a false narrative that we don't care," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.
The Thursday announcement did not indicate if Facebook will be restructured along with the name change. The company stock will start trading under a new ticker, MVRS, starting Dec. 1.
Editor's note: Lloyd Lee writes for the Palo Alto Weekly, an Embarcadero Media publication.