Facebook's Rebranding & What it Means for Consumers

By Martha Wyatt-Luth | December 2, 2021

On Thursday, October 28, 2021, the omnipresent technology company Facebook, made one of the most drastic business changes of the year. It publicly rebranded itself as a broader multi-media company named Meta. Rebranding offers the company the ability to distance itself from the criticism it faced in recent years over consumer privacy violations. It also enables the company to broaden its business ventures and continue to be a trailblazer in social media without increased criticism.

In 2012, Facebook experienced backlash after acquiring Instagram, reflecting the power of monopolies in the United States. With the world transitioning more and more to technology, a Metaverse, or digital universe, is not far off the horizon. Meta is one company that plans to dominate this so-called Metaverse as a continued economic monopoly. Shifting to a broader company mission, Meta can diversify its product line without having to automatically acquire other companies. Meta will be offering several new products that are required to engage with the Metaverse. Several new products will be in place that are required as purchases to engage with the Metaverse. The Quest 2 is the required Virtual Reality headset. The Beat Saber is the music video game set, and the Ray-Ban Stories are the smart glasses. The Metaverse will be shaped by this integration of both virtual and augmented reality.

The use of cryptocurrency in the Metaverse will also affect the way real-world economies will have to function. Cryptocurrencies will be used for doing things that individuals are able to do in the real world, such as visiting a Museum (but this time it could be halfway around the world) or buying new clothes for your personal avatar. Currently, the cryptocurrency market is too volatile to prove to be a smart secondary currency for countries. Back in September 2021, when El Salvador acquired bitcoin as legal tender, “the cryptocurrency market fell about $300 billion” in just one day, according to CoinGecko. Furthermore, stabilization of the crypto market needs to occur before it becomes the commanding global currency.

The Metaverse may cause further negative effects on the world. One of the major criticisms about social media is the isolation it perpetuates. Often, individuals are more inclined to use their phones than external activities due to their addictive quality. In the last ten years, the number of users has increased over eight times. As of 2021, “eighty-two percent of the population in the United States had a social networking profile,” according to the Statista Research Department. In fact, ninety-seven percent of teens ages thirteen to seventeen in the U.S. use at least one social media platform. Consequently, having a social media persona has become a core part of society and even a central part of a person’s identity.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual reality universe aims to minimize the isolating aspects and consequences of social media. The company described Meta as “the next evolution of social connection,” which will predominantly focus on expanding social media to virtual reality. In the virtual keynote speech publicly unveiling Meta, Zuckerberg explains, “instead of looking at a screen, you are going to be in these experiences.” The goal is to make social media a more personal experience.

Several benefits of social media have included the lowered levels of frictional unemployment, accessibility to education and information, staying connected to family and friends, and the opportunity of meeting new people. Decreased frictional unemployment can help the economy, and having access to information at our fingertips enables any individual to empower themselves with education. Recently, the rescuing of Americans stuck in Afghanistan during the Taliban’s occupation has shown crowdfunding to be an inspiring and inarguably positive benefit of social media. With the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily shutting down the majority of in-person work environments, virtual reality has come to the rescue as an alternative environment.

But what will be the consequences of having a virtual “universe” of social media? Increased addiction and isolation indoors are two obvious probabilities. Why bother traveling to New York City to see Central Park in the winter season when you can do it from the comfort of your heated home? Other consequences could be detrimental to human health. Screen time above just two hours for children can lead to sleep issues, chronic back issues, worsened eyesight, increased depression, anxiety, and more. Not to mention, this universe will be inaccessible for billions of people due to its affordability from acquiring the required technological devices.

Another result of social media has been the booming advertising industry. Instagram, at one point, was a purely photo-based sharing platform. Now, there is an online marketplace to shop based on your preferences found from your usage of the app. There is also the business format of Instagram that allows you to promote products and include contact information, much like LinkedIn. What will using virtual reality change? Rather than just measuring your interest in certain things while using the app, virtual reality can also measure your physical actions. For example, the Metaverse can track your participation while listening to music at a concert or joining in on a group video game. Imagine getting an icon saying, “dance more!” The proceeding sleep deprivation and fatigue could cause significant consequences for adolescents, which have less self-control due to a developing prefrontal cortex.

The Metaverse is Pandora’s box of technology at the moment. The combination of positive and negative effects are immeasurable. Facebook took advantage of this opportunity by rebranding itself literally as Meta. This change has been seen as positive to many. On the day Facebook’s rebranding was publicly announced, “Facebook closed with a market cap of nearly $900 billion, putting it in the top 10 biggest U.S. companies by market value,” according to the Wall Street Journal. One thing that is for sure is that social media is here to stay. It is up to us, consumers, to be educated and wise users of technology.

Edited by Maggie Reddington