Published: 20th October 2021
What The FAQ: What is Facebook's rumoured massive revamp all about?
Facebook and controversy go hand in hand. However, Mark Zuckerburg seems to be fighting tooth and nail to shed that reputation
Facebook probably epitomises the adage 'You hate it but you can't live without it' better than anything else. There is no dearth of allegations, whistleblower testimonies and prima facie evidence on the fact that as a social networking conglomerate, it pays pretty much zero heed to trivialities such as privacy and ethics. There are rumours now doing the round that Facebook, which first went live on February 4, 2004, is planning on a rebranding that will allow it to diversify its product offerings and services.
1. What will a rebrand entail?
According to a report by The Verge, which dropped just a few hours ago on October 20, Facebook is plotting to break away from its image as a social media platform and instead be known for the digital technology and software it has been building over the years. Ever since Facebook acquired VR headset company Oculus, it has about 10,000 employees working on the product and its technology, reports The Verge, adding that Mark Zuckerburg is of the view that the future is head-mounted devices (HMD).
2. How will a rebrand help?
A rebrand would mean that Facebook would function along with all of Facebook Inc's other acquisitions under a holding company — much like what Google did with Alphabet Inc. Facebook has declined to comment on these suspicions, but Mark Zuckerberg hasn't shied away from talking about a metaverse this year, which will be a virtual space where people connect, interact and share ideas via various devices. And if you look at the variety of companies Facebook has hired over the years, it doesn't seem too far-fetched to assume that this rebranding was almost long due.
3. What could have prompted the decision?
Frances Haugen and her claims about the damage Facebook has been causing at various levels, right from the impact that Instagram is having on the mental health of teenagers, to the skewed moderation policies for various accounts, to the fact that it does nothing about the misuse of the platform for polarisation and political extremism are all fresh in our memory. Another damning whistleblower testimony came to light just this week from former Facebook employee Sophie Zhang in front of the British parliament that the social networking site was turning a blind eye as authoritarian governments around the world used its platform to "manipulate public discourse," according to a report by TIME. The Verge speculates that Facebook is struggling to break free from its massively tainted image as a social media platform and is diversifying into a broader tech spectrum.
4. What are some of the subsidiaries that Facebook owns?
From video compression software to solar-powered drone makers, there is no dearth of variety in the 91 companies that Facebook has acquired. A sizable portion of the reported $23 billion they have spent on acquisitions went towards taking messaging site WhatsApp on board for $19 billion in 2014. Facebook also acquired Instagram back in 2012 for $1 billion, when Insta had 80 million users. Oculus, of the virtual reality headset fame, sold to Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion. Facebook also ensured it had video ads monetising site LiveRail on board in order to target its approximately 2 billion users with roughly 7 billion ads per month.