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Ex-Facebook vice president Lord Allen says name-change to Meta is NOT due to whistle-blower scandal

A Lib Dem peer and former Facebook vice president has today claimed the social media firm’s name change to Meta has been a ‘long time coming’ and is not related to the company’s whistleblower scandal.

Lord Richard Allen, who worked with the US tech giant for 10 years, says the firm’s announcement is about addressing ‘confusion’ between Facebook the company and Facebook the product.

Currently the overarching company behind Facebook is called Facebook Inc and operates the social media site, along with sister app Instagram, messaging service WhatsApp and virtual reality firm Oculus.

But founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg last night announced Facebook Inc would be renamed Meta from December 1.

The name change comes as Facebook continues to face a barrage of criticism following claims by former employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Ms Haugen leaked internal documents and made bombshell claims that it ‘puts profits over people’ by knowingly harming teenagers with its content and stoking anger among users.

But Lord Allen, a former MP who joined Facebook in 2009 and worked for the company until 2019 as the company’s vice president of policy solutions, today insisted the name change was a ‘practical’ one.

Speaking to BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme, Lord Allen, who did not stand for reelection as an MP in 2005 and who was replaced by Nick Clegg, now a key figure at Facebook, said: ‘I think from a practical point of view this change has clearly been a long time in the making and ends a confusion that has been there for many years. 

Lord Richard Allen, who worked with the US tech giant for 10 years, says the firm’s announcement is about addressing ‘confusion’ between Facebook the company and Facebook the product

Currently the overarching company behind Facebook (pictured founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg) is called Facebook Inc and operates the social media site, along with sister site Instagram and messaging servicing Whatsapp

Currently the overarching company behind Facebook (pictured founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg) is called Facebook Inc and operates the social media site, along with sister site Instagram and messaging servicing Whatsapp

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg last night announced the company would now be renamed Meta

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg last night announced the company would now be renamed Meta 

The name change comes as Facebook faces a barrage of criticism following claims by former employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen (pictured)

The name change comes as Facebook faces a barrage of criticism following claims by former employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen (pictured)

‘When I worked there you ended up with this really difficult situation when you talk about Facebook, internally did you mean Facebook the company, with Facebook and Instagram and Oculus, or did you mean Facebook the product?

‘So it’s a long time that people have been saying, as we’ve grown beyond that big blue app how do we best reflect that in our conversations?’

Asked if the timing was right, with the current negative press around Facebook, he said: ‘I think it is critical they do it now. From a company point of view, what Mark wants is to be positioned as a company at the forefront of innovation and social media is no longer seen as innovative, it’s seen as old school technology.

‘And for attracting staff to the company, it’s going to be easier to attract people to Meta, who may come and work on this big blue app, that it is to get people to work for Facebook. 

‘A lot of computer engineers as we’ve seen through this process are motivated by social motivations, political motivations, and Facebook has taken a battering. 

‘I think there’s a lot of people who would hold back from working for Facebook because it’s old technology and seen as harmful but who would work for this new company.’

Zuckerberg made the name change announcement yesterday at the Facebook Connect augmented and virtual reality conference. 

During the announcement, workers outside the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters pulled down a curtain bearing the company’s iconic ‘Like’ sign to reveal the new name and logo.

Meta refers to the ‘metaverse,’ Zuckerberg’s vision for the company’s transition into shared augmented reality, where uses work and play in virtual world environments.

The attempt to escape reality couldn’t come at a better time for the embattled brand, which will retain the Facebook name, but Facebook Inc. – the parent company that also owns Instagram and WhatsApp – will now go under the new title Meta. It will begin trading under MVRS on December 1.

The company is steeped deep in crisis after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents and made bombshell claims that it ‘puts profits over people’ by knowingly harming teenagers with its content and stoking anger among users.

The company is steeped deep in crisis after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents and made bombshell claims that it ‘puts profits over people’ by knowingly harming teenagers with its content and stoking anger among users. 

Facebook changed its name to Meta in reference to its goal of expanding beyond social media, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday at the Facebook Connect augmented and virtual reality conference

Facebook changed its name to Meta in reference to its goal of expanding beyond social media, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday at the Facebook Connect augmented and virtual reality conference

Employees pulled down a curtain draped over its iconic 'Like' sign outside the company's Silicon Valley headquarters was pulled down to reveal the new branding

Employees pulled down a curtain draped over its iconic ‘Like’ sign outside the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters was pulled down to reveal the new branding

Haugen, a Facebook former product manager, left the company with tens of thousands of confidential documents that she copied in secret and released to roughly two dozen news outlets. 

On Thursday it was revealed how Facebook researchers are said to have had extensive knowledge that coronavirus and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine existed on the company’s apps, yet did little to combat it let alone share the information with the White House.

Documents presented by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen show how multiple studies were run producing a number various number detailing the types of users who were most likely to share fake news.

Lawmakers, academics and the White House urged Facebook to share such information publicly.     

Facebook employees also knew misinformation about the coronavirus was dominating parts of the social media platform creating ‘echo-chamber-like effects’ ultimately reinforcing hesitancy over the vaccine. 

It includes a new logo depicting a blue infinity symbol and refers to the 'metaverse', the company's new focus to expand beyond its social media apps

It includes a new logo depicting a blue infinity symbol and refers to the ‘metaverse’, the company’s new focus to expand beyond its social media apps

Haugen testified before Congress on October 5 and British Parliament on Monday, presenting findings on the harm social media caused young users. One revealed that 13.5% of British teenagers and 6% of American teenagers experiencing suicidal thoughts said that they traced them to Instagram. 

A message posted on an internal message board in March 2020 and revealed in Haugen’s documents said the app revealed that 32% of girls said Instagram made them feel worse about their bodies if they were already having insecurities. 

Another recent claim against the company is that Instagram bombards women and girls who suffer from eating disorders with images and videos of exceedingly thin females and others afflicted with anorexia.

Internal documents revealed that Instagram’s algorithm curates options based on searches and preferences of users who express interest in dieting, weight loss, and thinness.

Instagram researchers this year conducted an experiment in which they typed in terms like #skinny and #thin are then offered to browse through other accounts that feature dangerously emaciated women and girls. 

Another core finding in the leaked documents was that Facebook staff have reported for years that they are concerned about the company’s failure to police hate speech and that its algorithms flooded users with extremist content and conspiracy theories based on their political beliefs. 

Internal messages from staff at the social media giant show that they blamed themselves for the January 6 Capitol riot after giving extremist content a platform on the site. 

‘One of the darkest days in the history of democracy and self-governance. History will not judge us kindly,’ said one worker while another said: ‘We’ve been fueling this fire for a long time and we shouldn’t be surprised it’s now out of control.’

Haugen’s leaked documents also reveal that Facebook potentially mislead the US Securities and Exchange Commission by failing to disclose that its popularity among young users is slumping. 

It is said to have failed to explain that many of its overall users are people with more than one account on its sites, meaning the actual number of users could be up to 11% fewer than its figures would suggest. 

One trend shows that the time spent on Facebook by U.S. teenagers was down 16% from 2020 to 2021 and that young adults, between 18 and 29, were spending 5% less time on the app, according to reporting from Bloomberg.   

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testifying before British lawmakers on Monday about her concerns over the tech giant's power in the tech and telecomms space. She said, among other things, that Facebook misleads the world by claiming it helps non-English-speaking companies with its technology, when it in fact fuels extremism

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testifying before British lawmakers on Monday about her concerns over the tech giant’s power in the tech and telecomms space. She said, among other things, that Facebook misleads the world by claiming it helps non-English-speaking companies with its technology, when it in fact fuels extremism

Despite an avalanche of damaging whistleblower claims surfacing at the start of this week in what became known as the Facebook Papers, Meta on Monday reported soaring profits for the latest quarter. 

The company said that its net income grew 17% in the July-September period to $9.19 billion, buoyed by strong advertising revenue. That’s up from profits of $7.85 billion a year earlier. 

Meta stock rose more than 1% in after-hours trading Tuesday and rose by more than 3% on Thursday afternoon before dropping to about 1.5% by 5pm. Third quarter revenue grew 35% to $29.01 billion, exceeding analyst expectations. 

The company’s name change includes a new logo depicting a blue infinity symbol and refers to the ‘metaverse’, its new focus to expand beyond its social media apps. 

The term ‘metaverse’ can refer to digital spaces, which are made more lifelike by the use of virtual reality or augmented reality.

‘Our mission remains the same, it’s still about bringing people together,’ he said, adding, ‘Now we have a new North Star to help bring the metaverse to life.’  

He added that the word means ‘beyond’ in Greek and symbolizes that there is ‘always more to build’ and ‘always a next chapter in the story.’ 

‘I believe the metaverse is the next chapter of the Internet and it’s the next chapter of our company too,’ he said, adding, ‘While most etch companies focus on how people could connect to technology, we focus on building technology so people could connect with each other.’    

Zuckerberg has previously suggested the metaverse to be the future of the company, and has been talking up the metaverse since July.

The company has invested heavily in virtual reality and augmented reality, developing hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets and working on AR glasses and wristband technologies.

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