Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images Mark Zuckerberg
The big change, which was first reported by The Verge last week, was announced at the company's annual Connect conference — and reflects their focus on building the metaverse, which the company says will be a "hybrid of today's online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world."
"We are at the beginning of the next chapter for the internet, and it's the next chapter for our company too," CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 37, wrote in his founder's letter.
"Today we're seen as a social media company," he continued. "But increasingly, it's not all we do. In our DNA, we build technology to bring people together. The metaverse is the next frontier in connecting people, just like social networking was when we got started."
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Zuckerberg described the metaverse as "even more immersive — an embodied internet where you're in the experience, not just looking at it."
"The defining quality of the metaverse will be a feeling of presence — like you are right there with another person or in another place. Feeling truly present with another person is the ultimate dream of social technology. That is why we are focused on building this."
The metaverse is the next evolution of social connection. It's a collective project that will be created by people all over the world, and open to everyone. You’ll be able to socialize, learn, collaborate and play in ways that go beyond what’s possible today. pic.twitter.com/655yFRm8yZ
— Meta (@Meta) October 28, 2021
The company's rebrand came amid a period of intense scrutiny for the company.
Recently, former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen leaked internal documents to lawmakers and the Wall Street Journal.
The documents led to a WSJ series that alleged Facebook allowed the accounts of high-profile users to bypass its rules, allowing some to post material meant to incite violence or harass others; downplayed data that showed Instagram is harmful to young teens, namely girls; and made changes to its algorithm that made people "angrier," among other allegations.
Zuckerberg referenced the "scrutiny and public debate" surrounding the company in a pre-recorded video message.
"Some of you might be wondering why we're doing this right now," he said in the video. "The answer is I believe that we're put on this earth to create. I believe technology can make our lives better and I believe the future won't be built on its own."
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Meta
Acknowledging that "there are important issues to work on in the present," Zuckerberg added that "so long as I'm running this company," he wants to focus on innovation and "absolutely go for it."
In his founder's letter, the CEO also emphasized that "privacy and safety need to be built into the metaverse from day one."
"The last five years have been humbling for me and our company in many ways. One of the main lessons I've learned is that building products people love isn't enough," he wrote.
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Zuckerberg previously mentioned the company shifting focus during a July interview with The Verge.
"The metaverse is a vision that spans many companies — the whole industry. You can think about it as the successor to the mobile internet," he said. "It's certainly not something that any one company is going to build."
Earlier this month, the company also announced that over the next five years it plans on creating 10,000 jobs across the EU to help bring the metaverse online.
"Facebook is at the start of a journey to help build the next computing platform," the company wrote in a blog post, referring to the metaverse as "a new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality."
"At its heart is the idea that by creating a greater sense of 'virtual presence', interacting online can become much closer to the experience of interacting in person," the company wrote.