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Facebook announced Thursday that it officially changed its name and will operate under the name Meta, the U.S. company's co-founder Mark Zuckerberg confirmed.
The move, announced during the annual developer conference, seeks to reflect the company's new focus as it works to build its "metaverse."
"We are now seen as a social networking company," Zuckerberg said noting that the old name no longer reflects everything the company does. "But in our DNA we are a company that builds technology to connect people," he added.
Last month, the social networking giant announced that it plans to invest $50 million over two years in collaborative programs with other organizations and sectors in research for the development of a "metaverse."
The project, announced in July, involves the creation of a series of "virtual spaces" where users will be able to work, communicate, learn, create, shop and play without leaving home.
Meta is the realization of the company's commitment to the metaverse, a trendy concept that can be summed up in a movie: Ready Player One. Those who have ever tried Second Life (which had its moment of glory at the end of the last decade) will understand the idea.
The metaverse, as Zuckerberg dreams, is a virtual world where, using virtual reality glasses and other elements still under development, we will be able to do everything we do today in the real world, but with some advantages and disadvantages.
Announcing @Meta — the Facebook company’s new name. Meta is helping to build the metaverse, a place where we’ll play and connect in 3D. Welcome to the next chapter of social connection. pic.twitter.com/ywSJPLsCoD
According to Zuckerberg's estimates, the "metaverse" will reach 1 billion people in the next decade. He also expects the new ecosystem to help create millions of jobs.
The announcement comes in the midst of a crisis, sparked by the publication of one of the largest document leaks of the US company, which made Facebook a target of strong criticism for controversial practices, seriously damaging the company's reputation.
Facebook is, as never before, under the scrutiny of the press and governments: to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Facebook's interference in the U.S. elections.
The statements of former Facebook employee Frances Haugen and the leak of multiple documents suggesting that the company is aware of the negative influence that its products can have add to the existing perception of the polarizing influence that the social network has on society in general.