Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Coming Great Face(Book) Off

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is smart enough to see the writing on the wall, if the Democrats don't break up his social media empire, the Trump cultists will. As such, he's pulling a Google by reportedly forming a parent company where Facebook would be just one of the "brands", according to The Verge's Alex Heath.

Facebook is planning to change its company name next week to reflect its focus on building the metaverse, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

The coming name change, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to talk about at the company’s annual Connect conference on October 28th, but could unveil sooner, is meant to signal the tech giant’s ambition to be known for more than social media and all the ills that entail. The rebrand would likely position the blue Facebook app as one of many products under a parent company overseeing groups like Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and more. A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment for this story.

Facebook already has more than 10,000 employees building consumer hardware like AR glasses that Zuckerberg believes will eventually be as ubiquitous as smartphones. In July, he told The Verge that, over the next several years, “we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.”

A rebrand could also serve to further separate the futuristic work Zuckerberg is focused on from the intense scrutiny Facebook is currently under for the way its social platform operates today. A former employee turned whistleblower, Frances Haugen, recently leaked a trove of damning internal documents to The Wall Street Journal and testified about them before Congress. Antitrust regulators in the US and elsewhere are trying to break the company up, and public trust in how Facebook does business is falling.

Facebook isn’t the first well-known tech company to change its company name as its ambitions expand. In 2015, Google reorganized entirely under a holding company called Alphabet, partly to signal that it was no longer just a search engine, but a sprawling conglomerate with companies making driverless cars and health tech. And Snapchat rebranded to Snap Inc. in 2016, the same year it started calling itself a “camera company” and debuted its first pair of Spectacles camera glasses.

I’m told that the new Facebook company name is a closely-guarded secret within its walls and not known widely, even among its full senior leadership. A possible name could have something to do with Horizon, the name of the still-unreleased VR version of Facebook-meets-Roblox that the company has been developing for the past few years. The name of that app was recently tweaked to Horizon Worlds shortly after Facebook demoed a version for workplace collaboration called Horizon Workrooms.
Of course the real reason this is going on is for legal reasons. With multiple attorneys general from nearly all 50 states stalking the company, spinning off into a parent company to protect its nearly trillion-dollar market cap, not to mention Zuckerberg's own 100 billion plus, is just a smart move.

The attorney general for the District of Columbia has announced that he is naming Mark Zuckerberg as a defendant in the district’s lawsuit against Facebook.

Karl Racine made the announcement Wednesday, saying that Zuckerberg had knowledge of decisions that led to the exposure of Facebook user data.

“Based on the evidence we gathered in this case over the past two years and the District’s investigation more generally, it’s clear Mr. Zuckerberg knowingly and actively participated in each decision that led to Cambridge Analytica’s mass collection of Facebook user data, and Facebook’s misrepresentations to users about how secure their data was,” Racine said in a statement to Law & Crime. “The evidence further demonstrates that Mr. Zuckerberg also participated in misleading the public and government officials about Facebook’s role. Under these circumstances, Mr. Zuckerberg should be held liable for his involvement in the decisions that enabled the exposure of millions of users’ data – and that’s why we’re adding him to our complaint.”

“Protecting the Data of Half of the District’s Residents”

It’s the first time a U.S. regulator, including an attorneys general office, specifically named Zuckerberg in a complaint, according to Racine’s office.

“My office filed our lawsuit in 2018, and since then, we’ve reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of documents produced in litigation and completed a wide range of depositions including former employees and whistleblowers,” Racine said on Twitter. “This lawsuit is about protecting the data of half of all District residents and tens of millions of people across the country. We’ve taken our obligation to investigate wrongdoing very seriously—and Facebook should take its responsibility to protect users just as seriously.”

The parent company move makes a whole hell of a lot of sense. Besides, if Facebook gets burned to the ground, the parent company will live on doing its "metaverse" thing and being just as evil, only bigger.

Or maybe it'll collapse before Zuck's AR glasses turn everyone into privacy destroying spies.

We'll find out next week.  Or sooner!

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