When Facebook introduced internet users to its “Meta” rebrand today, CEO Mark Zuckerberg came ready—mostly.
Facebook already owns a Twitter handle under the Meta name, and the domain name meta.com, which now brings users to a landing page explaining planned changes to the platform. Facebook will also start trading under the stock ticker MVRS on Dec. 1. But ironically, the social media giant had to pursue something different for one of its own platforms: @meta on Instagram currently belongs to META magazine, a Denver-based publication focusing on motorcycling.
Facebook snagged @wearemeta instead, a handle currently approaching 1 million followers. By the morning of Oct. 29, META magazine’s account had been disabled. The publication did not respond to an inquiry on whether they were approached about changing their name.
“Meta” was owned by Zuckerberg’s foundation
The Meta brand was in the works well before Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would change its name. The Chan Zuckerberg Science Initiative, the nonprofit that Zuckerberg oversees with his wife Priscilla, owns a project called Meta—which just so happens to be sunsetting next March. The project, which was acquired by the couple in 2017, is a platform for scientific research papers.
As Silicon Valley reporter Teddy Schleifer noted, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative recently “entered an agreement to transfer those brand assets to Facebook.” It even had the foresight to purchase the Twitter handle for Meta, as well as the trademark to the name, he reported.
Under the Meta umbrella
Facebook isn’t the first tech giant to attempt a rebrand: Google pursued a similar name change—restructuring under parent company Alphabet—but is still widely referred by the search engine’s original moniker.
Likewise, “Facebook” itself will still exist under the Meta rebrand, as will Instagram, WhatsApp, and other apps currently operated by Facebook. Nor is the name change expected to drastically change the way those apps’ collective 2.6 billion users interact with them in the immediate future.
But Facebook does have big plans for Meta: The company’s aim is to build a “metaverse” where users can “socialize, learn, and collaborate” with technology such as 3D and augmented reality. Zuckerberg is likely also hoping the rebrand will distract people from a series of negative stories outlining the platform’s negative impacts on privacy, adolescents’ mental health, election integrity, radicalization, and hate speech around the world.