‘Meta as in METAstasising’: Democrats Dunk on Facebook Following Rebrand
14:16 GMT 29.10.2021 (Updated: 18:23 GMT 03.11.2022)
© Photo : Mark Zuckerberg / FacebookMark Zuckerberg
© Photo : Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday that his company would be renamed "Meta," ostensibly to bring the tech giant into line with its "metaverse" concept – a vision of a futuristic online world accessible to users through virtual and augmented reality technologies.
Democratic lawmakers and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have unloaded on Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, alleging that a rebranding will not wash away the harm to society caused by the tech giant under its previous name.
“Meta as in ‘we are a cancer to democracy metastasising into a global surveillance and propaganda machine for boosting authoritarian regimes and destroying civil society…for profit!” Democratic New York congressional representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – a long-time critic of social media, wrote in a scathing tweet.
Connecticut Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal echoed AOC’s criticism, suggesting that “a new nom de plume may confuse and distract, but won’t erase years of devious practices and disregard for privacy, kids’ wellbeing, spreading hate and genocide.”
His colleague, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, tweeted that while “Facebook wants us to start calling it Meta…we’re just going to keep calling it what it is, a threat to privacy, democracy, and children.”
Twitter, whose CEO Jack Dorsey has been feuding with Zuckerberg for weeks over Facebook’s “dystopian” “metaverse” concept,” poked fun at his social media rival’s rebranding, mockingly tweeting “BIG NEWS lol jk still Twitter” following Zuckerberg’s renaming announcement.
BIG NEWS lol jk still Twitter— Twitter (@Twitter) October 28, 2021
meta: referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential.— jack⚡️ (@jack) October 28, 2021
US fast food giant Wendy’s also joined in the mockery, jokingly changing its name to “Meat.”
Changing name to Meat— Meat (@Wendys) October 28, 2021
Zuckerberg revealed the company’s new name at the company’s Facebook Connect conference on Thursday, promoting his "metaverse" as a new shared platform involving the use of virtual and augmented reality in a variety of applications for both work and play.
Zuckerberg has a long record of interest in virtual reality technology, buying out Oculus, a VR headset maker, in 2014, and working with the Pentagon’s top secret defence research arm to make advances in cyberwarfare using augmented reality. The company piled $10 billion into its reality Labs division in 2021, and plans to double the number of workers involved in the project in the coming years.
28 October 2021, 18:22 GMT
The Meta rebrand comes amid damning criticism from former Facebook executive-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen. In testimony before US and British lawmakers in recent weeks, Haugen accused the company of engaging in toxic business practices, and of a failure to moderate potentially harmful content and hate speech, particularly in markets outside the US such as India.
Haugen alleges that the platform failed to tackle "election misinformation" and "inflammatory content" during and after the 2020 US presidential election – including allegations made by former president Donald Trump that the election was “stolen” and “misinformation” related to hot-topic issues such as the coronavirus. Her testimony has prompted some Democrats to demand that the state step in to regulate the company amid evidence that “self-regulation is not working.”
Republicans have broadly dismissed calls to resolve problems with the company using state regulation, but have long alleged that Facebook and other tech giants have an implicit bias against conservatives. As an example, they have often cited the New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop in the run-up to the November election. Facebook and Twitter moved to limit the story’s sharing, with Trump and Republicans accusing the tech giants of “unacceptable” censorship.
17 June 2020, 18:55 GMT