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Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media giant is renaming its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media platform to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.

Details: Speaking at Facebook’s annual Connect AR and VR event, Zuckerberg said that Facebook's future "is beyond any one company."

  • Moving forward, he said, users will not need to log into Facebook to be able to access the company's other apps and features.
  • "I've been thinking a lot about our identity as we think about this next chapter," he said. "Facebook is one of the most used products in the world. It's an iconic social media brand. but increasingly, it just doesn’t encompass everything that we do."
  • "Building our social media apps will always be an important focus for us, but right now our brand is so tightly linked to one product that can’t possibly represent everything we do and will be linked to in the future," he added."

The company's corporate structure is not changing. Monday it announced that it would separate its "Family of Apps" financial reporting from Facebook Reality Labs, which is spearheading the metaverse project.

  • The company intends to start trading under the new stock ticker, MVRS, on December 1. Facebook says it has already reserved that ticker name.

The big picture: The rebrand comes amid one of Facebook's most dramatic public relations crises in recent memory. Over the past week, dozens of news outlets released reports about the tech giant based on leaked whistleblower documents.

  • The stories suggested that Facebook has known about harms caused by its policies and products, but opted not to address them at the expense of the company's bottom line — an allegation the company vehemently denies.

Be smart: Dozens of companies have rebranded over the years, typically representing a shift in focus. For example, Apple rebranded from Apple Computers and Tesla rebranded from Tesla Motors.

  • Google in 2015 famously rebranded to Alphabet and announced a restructure that made Google a subsidiary of the bigger Alphabet holding company. The new structure was meant to help separate Google's other companies and investments, like YouTube and Android, from Google.

Yes, but: Critics argue that Facebook's rebrand signals more than just a business shift, but also a chance to save its reputation to avoid further press and regulatory scrutiny.

Go deeper

Dec 2, 2021 - Technology

Activist movements drive misinformation mayhem

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Activist movements promoting conspiracy theories and anti-vaccination lies are increasingly becoming the most dangerous spreaders of misinformation, according to researchers, often causing more real-world harm than state or government-backed groups.

Why it matters: Informal movements tend to rely on tactics — like coordinated harassment of health officials, journalists and influencers — that are hard to police without violating individuals' speech freedoms.

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.

1 hour ago - Health

Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European countries are doubling down on pressure campaigns to get people vaccinated just as Republicans continue to wage war — often successfully — against vaccine mandates in the U.S.

Why it matters: The starkly different approaches create a sharp contrast between the regions' approaches to vaccination, even as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads around the world.