16 Nov, 2021

Goodbye Facebook, Hello Meta…

As a student of English Language and Linguistic Science, before starting my career using this education to take on SEO and marketing; I am no stranger to the prefix “meta”. I’ve studied metalanguage and metalinguistics, I’ve spent more hours than I can count optimizing meta data and truth be told, I’m quite partial to the odd metaphor too. Despite that, it must be said, the use of this common prefix as a proper noun, wasn’t something I can say I saw coming. Kudos to the formerly titled Facebook company for taking me by surprise there.

So, what does Meta mean and why would Facebook chose to rebrand to such a term?

Let’s start with what Meta means in the lexical sense and let me also state this will be a relatively brief definition. If you want to really get into the etymology and meanings of the prefix “meta” then this delightful article from the BBC has it all. For my purposes here though, Meta, from the Greek μετά basically means something along the lines of “after, along with, beyond, among or behind”.

It’s use as a prefix commonly indicates things like change; so for example, words like metamorphosis. It is also used within many academic disciplines to denote the concepts or outcomes of a named discipline i.e. metalinguistics, meta-ethics… and it can commonly express things that happen behind, beyond or after others.

There are other uses of meta as a prefix as well but by this stage we’re delving into the realms of chemistry and that is neither my area of expertise nor quite what I think Facebook was going for when they rebranded to the term. In other words, I don’t think they’re positioning themselves as a new kind of chemical compound. In fact, I think Mr Zuckerburg is being far more pretentious in rebranding to Meta, and I think he acknowledges this when he states that Meta symbolises the fact that “there is always more to build” as quoted by INews. He’s effectively aligning his brand with the concept of going “beyond”.

The rebrand goes beyond (sorry) more than just a name change though, it also re-introduces the idea of the “metaverse”. This is essentially a version or iteration of the internet, which sees multiple technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and video, combined to create immersive digital experiences and spaces. At present, the best examples of metaverses, albeit in a more limited form than what Meta is aspiring to, include video games like Second Life and Fortnite.

Note I said “reintroduces” and not “introduces” though, as it’s important to state that the concept of the metaverse has been around for some time already. However, what Meta (formerly Facebook) is aiming to do, is position itself as a core player in the evolution of the metaverse going forward. To put it another way, this rebrand is as tactical as it is philosophical and don’t you forget it.

To learn more about exactly what Meta has in store for us and exactly how they plan on “helping bring the metaverse to life” you can visit their updated “about” information right here. But in short, get ready for a lot more product releases from Meta very soon.