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Facebook announces the rebranding of the company as Meta in the face of mounting controversy

In the face of mounting controversy surrounding his beleaguered technology company, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out his vision for the internet's future at a company conference on Thursday, which he sees evolving through the so-called "metaverse."

Zuckerberg also announced that the company's name will be changed to "Meta" to reflect the company's shifting interests, though critics have accused the company of using the high-profile name change announcement to deflect attention away from the renewed scrutiny it has faced from lawmakers and others in recent weeks.

The metaverse, a three-dimensional digital world created by augmented and virtual reality products and services, will be "the mobile internet's successor," Zuckerberg said during Thursday's Connect conference keynote speech. The CEO demonstrated several of the experiences he stated will soon be available in the digital realm, including connecting with friends and family, gaming, exercising, and even working remotely via a digital avatar and virtual reality hardware.

"We're now segmenting our business and reporting on it separately, one for our family of apps and another for work on future platforms, and it's time for us to adopt a new company brand to encompass everything we do and reflect who we are and what we hope to build," he explained.

"I am pleased to announce that our company is now meta," Zuckerberg continued.

The Facebook CEO explained that the term is derived from the Greek word for "beyond" and is intended to convey the message that "there is always more to build, there is always a next chapter to the story."

"Our mission of bringing people together remains the same, as do our apps and their brands," the CEO added. "While we remain the company that designs technology with people in mind, we now have a new North Star to assist in bringing the metaverse to life, and a new name that reflects the breadth of our work and the future we wish to help build."

Finally, Zuckerberg stated, "From now on, we're going to prioritize the metaverse over Facebook."

The announcement of the name change comes just weeks after a company whistleblower, Frances Haugen, testified before lawmakers, alleging that Facebook executives showed blatant disregard when they learned their platform could have negative effects on democracy and young people's mental health.

In her opening statement before members of the Senate Commerce subcommittee, Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, accused Facebook of "choosing to prioritize profits over people."

"You can declare moral bankruptcy and we can work together to resolve these issues," Haugen explained.

Zuckerberg did not directly address Haugen's claims during his remarks Thursday, instead stating that "the last few years have been humbling in a variety of ways for me and our company." Throughout his over-an-hour-long remarks, he primarily demonstrated how he envisions people using the metaverse and virtual or augmented reality tools in the near and distant future.

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