Mark Zuckerberg says it’s ‘ridiculous’ to think he changed Facebook’s name to skirt the latest wave of controversy

A photo of Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and cofounder of Facebook.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
  • Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge he didn’t change Facebook’s name because of recent controversy.
  • The CEO said it’s “ridiculous” that some people might think there’s a connection.
  • He said he’s been considering a rebrand since around 2014 when he bought Instagram and WhatsApp.

Mark Zuckerberg said it’s “ridiculous” for people to think that he changed his company Facebook’s name to Meta because of the recent wave of backlash.

The CEO told The Verge in an interview – which was published shortly after the name change was announced Thursday – that the current news cycle had no effect on the decision.

“Even though I think some people might want to make that connection, I think that’s sort of a ridiculous thing,” Zuckerberg told the outlet. “If anything, I think that this is not the environment that you would want to introduce a new brand in.”

Facebook has been rocked in recent weeks by a trove of internal documents that former employee-turned whistleblower Frances Haugen shared with the press as well as with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The material, known as the “Facebook Papers,” includes employees’ concerns about instances of the company’s wrongdoing.

Facebook has pushed back on the characterization and said the documents don’t paint a full picture of it.

Zuckerberg said he’s been considering a rebrand since around 2014 when Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp. It was earlier this year, however, that he decided the time had come for the switch, per the interview.

“I think it’s helpful for people to have a relationship with a company that is different from the relationship with any specific one of the products, that can kind of supersede all of that,” Zuckerberg told The Verge.

The name change was expected to reflect Facebook’s push into the so-called metaverse, an existing concept that involves a virtual universe in which people interact digitally using avatars. Zuckerberg demonstrated what that could look like during Thursday’s Oculus Connect event, displaying examples of how the metaverse could impact our social and work lives.

Both the rebrand and the metaverse are welcome distractions for Facebook as it grapples with the PR nightmare it’s currently embroiled in.

But while experts previously told Insider that the metaverse emphasis is a “genius” marketing move, the company isn’t exactly free from the problems that have caused such a widespread public backlash.

And the name change itself isn’t enough to save it from the torrent of criticism, experts told Insider.

What Facebook’s name change could do, however, is save its other projects – like Horizon – from being associated with the bad press that Facebook has gotten, Ashley Cooksley, managing director for North America at The Social Element, told Insider previously.

“If it’s only the holding company that changes its name, it’s presumably more about distancing the parent company from the Facebook product so that any toxicity in Facebook stays within that one product, rather than ‘infecting’ other brands under the parent banner,” Cooksley said.