WTF Is Up With Facebook’s Metaverse

Facebook has been a busy little beaver this week. It’s just possible the social network, with 2.89 billion users, generated more headlines this week than Dave Chappelle’s extremely overly discussed three-week-old stand-up special. Here’s a bit of a round-up of some of the reason’s the social network made headlines this week.

The Facebook Name Change

Facebook renamed its parent company, Meta, to signal a desire to control the metaverse. “The next platform will be even more immersive — and embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it. We call this the metaverse, and it will touch every product we build.” reads Mark Zuckerberg’s letter to shareholders. 

The name change is part of a more significant corporate restructure that mirrors Google becoming Alphabet back in 2015. No doubt, many legal and investor reasons exist for the rebrand, but the name change and the tease of the name change served as a PR shield for…

The Leaked Documents 

Frances Haugen, a Facebook whistleblower (or disgruntled former employee, depending upon who you ask), testified before Congress on October 5th (the same day Chappelle’s special hit Netflix). Haugen has since released a considerable amount of Facebook’s internal documents to a group of reporters and US Congress. 

The so dubbed Facebook papers have generated a vast amount of headlines. A scan of Google news shows: 

  • “Facebook execs denied covid misinformation despite internal alarm bells” from The Washington Post,
  •  “Why Working at Facebook Is Like Playing Chess with an Alien, According to Leaked Documents,” from Time Magazine
  • “Facebook knew it was being used to incite violence in Ethiopia. It did little to stop the spread, documents show” in CNN
  • “Facebook Employees Flag Drug Cartels and Human Traffickers. The Company’s Response Is Weak, Documents Show.” from The Wall Street Journal 

And on down the list of the most prominent publications, publishing Facebook’s worst bits. 

I do not wish to defend Facebook. But I’d feel remiss if I didn’t note the balancing acts people expect of the company. Facebook users want complete privacy in Messenger and to stop Messenger from being used to sell drugs (or worse things). They want to remove the Facebook news algorithms and to keep these algorithms.

People demand of the company total freedom to post without censorship and to remove anything objectionable, including health-related miss information.

With nearly 2.9 billion users in 130 countries around the world Facebook, cannot make everyone happy. I’m not a fan, Facebook offends me, and I often wish the platform would fade away. But my complaining about Facebook probably will not make it go away faster.

For whatever it is worth, and, I know it sounds like I’m defending Facebook. Some of the Facebook problems would still be problems without Facebook. People still want drugs, and if Messenger weren’t around, other tools would be used to acquire them.

Just as misinformation, dirty politics, hurtful words, human trafficking, crimes motivated by hate, and so down the list of objectionable things predating Facebook now take place on Facebook, they would have taken place without Facebook.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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