Facebook’s rumored rebrand could help it dodge antitrust regulation

The news: Facebook may be planning to change its brand name to shift focus away from its traditional “blue” app and toward Mark Zuckerberg’s loftier metaverse vision according to a source in The Verge.

  • The rumored name change, which could come as early as next week, would attempt to mirror Google’s strategy in 2015 when it created the broader conglomerate Alphabet to better reflect its growing diverse portfolio of businesses.

The bigger picture: A corporate name change would mark the strongest signal yet of Facebook’s evolution away from social media and towards hardware and emerging tech product offerings.

  • Facebook is already making inroads to fulfilling Zuckerberg’s goal of becoming a metaverse company in five yearsas of this week, the company is already planning to hire at least 10,000 engineers and other roles in Europe to help build the metaverse.
  • On the hardware front, Facebook’s 2014, $2 billion Oculus acquisition has borne major fruit and become the undisputed consumer VR market leader, recently capturing over two-thirds of global headset shipments.

Would it succeed? Given Facebook’s clear pivot into hardware and dismal public trust, a name change makes sense and is probably long overdue.

  • Years of lawsuits, regulatory fines, repeated privacy breaches and most recently a high-profile whistleblower testimony made Facebook one of the least trusted of all Big Tech brands by consumers.
  • According to a recent Morning Consult survey released following the whistleblower’s testimony, the majority of US adults said they support Congressional attempts to regulate Facebook by requiring public disclosure of research and requiring more transparency into its algorithms.
  • A brand rename would likely lead to tighter integration of all Facebook’s family of apps, which may make it practically much more difficult to break up any of the companies as has been proposed by some lawmakers.

The bottom line: A name change alone won’t be enough to wipe the slate clean and regain users’ trust in the long term.

  • A rebrand would allow the company to shed some of the public trust baggage tied to the Facebook brand to some degree.
  • But any new brand would also have to address issues around Facebook’s ad business, and privacy policies in order to avoid simply passing down Facebook’s beleaguered reputation.

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