Facebook recently announced that it’s shifting gears to put more effort into “building the metaverse” – and it’s changing its name to better indicate these new ambitions.

What is the metaverse?

In a statement earlier this summer, Mark Zuckerberg remarked,

“We will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.”

Sure, “metaverse” sounds trendy and futuristic, but what does it actually mean? A recent definition given by Facebook explains:

“The ‘metaverse’ is a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you. You’ll be able to hang out with friends, work, play, learn, shop, create and more. It’s not necessarily about spending more time online — it’s about making the time you do spend online more meaningful.”

Currently, the metaverse is still in its nascent stage, and needs many developments before it reaches full functionality. As Facebook also mentioned:

“The metaverse isn’t a single product one company can build alone. Just like the internet, the metaverse exists whether Facebook is there or not. And it won’t be built overnight. Many of these products will only be fully realized in the next 10-15 years.”

What these changes mean for Facebook

While the Facebook parent company is reorienting itself and changing its name, the Facebook app will stay the same. Despite Zuckerberg’s explanation for the name change, some believe that the true reason behind it is because of the negative press the company has received lately. According to a recent comment by Richard J. Lutz, a marketing professor at the University of Florida,

“It is expensive… When companies [change a brand name], it is usually due to the desire — or pressing need — to distance themselves from unwanted associations.”

Regardless of its true motivations, the company already has major plans for the metaverse, as it is working to hire a new European workforce of approximately 10,000 individuals to make its dreams for this new internet realm a reality. As Zuckerberg recently commented:

“[The metaverse is] going to be a big focus, and I think that this is just going to be a big part of the next chapter for the way that the internet evolves after the mobile internet… I think it’s going to be the next big chapter for our company too, really doubling down in this area.”