Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced the name change on Thursday night with a video suggesting users could engage in virtual reality, such as visiting a virtual recreation of their home or play virtual games with people across the world.
The new name will refer only to Facebook’s parent company, which also owns other apps including WhatsApp and Instagram. The Facebook app will keep its name.
Social media users were quick to react to the news, and hundreds of memes and jokes about Meta have been created.
Many mocked Zuckerberg’s new vision, suggesting that the rebranding was a ploy to distract users from Facebook’s numerous problems.
In recent weeks, the company has faced claims that it allows misinformation and divisive content to proliferate on the platform, and has done little to fight it.
One person tweeted: “Can’t have problems with Facebook if the company isn’t called Facebook #Meta.”
Another person used a popular meme featuring rapper Drake, suggesting that Zuckerberg would rather change the tech giant’s name than solve its “privacy issues”, referring to a 2018 data scandal in which it was revealed that Facebook sold information from tens of millions of users to Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm.
Cambridge Analytica used the data from Facebook to profile voters and target political adverts during the 2016 US presidential elections, which was won by Donald Trump.
Others were perturbed by Zuckerberg’s performance in the announcement video, which showed the media magnate choosing monochrome outfits on a virtual reality avatar before hanging out in a simulated meeting room in space.
One person said: “Why does every image of Mark Zuckerberg look like a deep-fake of Mark Zuckerberg?”
Eagle-eyed viewers spotted a seemingly random bottle of barbecue sauce on one of Zuckerberg’s bookshelves, sparking confusion as to why he had the condiment on display.
Some people theorised that the sauce was placed deliberately as a nod to one of Zuckerberg’s early Facebook Live presentations, in which he repeats the words “Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce” around 10 times.
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