Facebook is reportedly preparing to unveil a new name as the company seeks to rebrand, and the internet has already come through with some pointed suggestions.
The plans, first reported by the Verge on Tuesday, come at a time of upheaval for the company. In the last few months alone, Facebook has been served with a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission, was the subject of a congressional hearing after a whistleblower revealed worrying internal practices at the company, and is facing a walkout of moderators over working conditions.
Ideas for how to overhaul its toxic image followed swiftly after the news broke. Reporter Katie Notopoulos at Buzzfeed put forward a number of options: BookFace, MySpace, Facey McBookface, Definitely NOT Facebook, Hellsite, Oops We Facilitated Genocide, and The Good And Nice Company, Not At All Evil.
Other’s took to Twitter to lend their rebranding skills.
Many have accused the company of creating a new brand to sidestep the flurry of regulation and bad press it has received in recent years – as backlash mounts from US Congress, the press, and public opinion over its privacy practices, negative public health impacts and problems with hate speech.
Mark Zuckerberg has previously expressed his goals to expand the company brand – particularly into its “metaverse” worlds. Zuckerberg’s vision for the metaverse would use artificial and virtual reality technology to create a digital space, similar to the internet, in which people could use digital avatars to walk around a virtual world and interact with one another in real time.
The platform would allow users, for example, to sit around a table in a meeting together while in their respective homes. In its report Tuesday, the Verge suggested Facebook could change its name to “Horizon”, which is reportedly what it is calling its metaverse brand.
Tech companies have launched similar rebrands in the past – with Google renaming itself Alphabet in 2015 to represent its growing subsidiaries such as YouTube and the self-driving car firm WayMo. That rebrand also came at a difficult time for Google, which was also accused of making the change to distract from its problems.
Regardless of what Facebook changes its name to, the move is likely an attempt to stave off the storm of bad press and proposed regulations from lawmakers in Washington and globally – and that’s no laughing matter, civil rights advocates say.
“Like big tobacco and big oil rebranded to deflect attention for their crimes, Facebook thinks that a rebrand can help them change the subject,” said the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a watchdog group monitoring the company.
“It’s easy to dismiss this as a joke or think Nick Clegg has snapped a tether, but this is a sign Facebook will go to any length to distract from their failure to keep hate off of their platforms,” they added.