Social media platform Facebook’s parent company changed its name to Meta, in an effort to leave behind its scandal-ridden past. All apps under the company will retain their names – Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp.
The tech giant introduced the “metaverse” which envisions an augmented reality for the future. While CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims that “it is time to take everything we’ve learned and help build the next chapter,” critics of the rebranding say that it is “meaningless” and the public must stand firm to “hold Facebook accountable.”
Critics also say that the move was an attempt to deflect from the negative attention they now receive.
Former employee Frances Haugen, who leaked damaging documents revealing Facebook’s knowledge of the harmful potential of their apps, urged Zuckerberg to resign instead of going down the path of a rebrand.
“I think it is unlikely the company will change if [Mark Zuckerberg] remains the CEO,” she declared last week on opening night of tech fest Web Summit held in Lisbon, Portugal.
In September this year, Haugen filed at least eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission, claiming that Facebook was burying research regarding its shortcomings from investors and the public.
She shared these with Wall Street Journal, which in turn published an investigation saying that the tech giant knew that its apps were harmful, particularly to teen girls.
Haugen resigned in April this year, but prior to that, collected documents that laid the foundation for WSJ’s investigation.
Haugen joined Facebook in 2019, attracted by the chance to work on addressing misinformation and issues concerning democracy. After the elections, however, she said that the company dissolved its civic integrity team. In her view, it was what enabled Facebook to be used as a means of organization of the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.
These were categorically denied by the company.
Haugen also shared that she began to feel that Facebook was not doing enough to protect its giant user base.
“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook, and Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” she told 60 Minutes.
The former employee further said that it created a “system that amplifies division, extremism and polarization.”
“Facebook became a $1 trillion company by paying for its profits with our safety, including the safety of our children. And that is unacceptable,” she said.
Facebook has faced major crises in its past, but this is shaping up to be among its most serious ever.