Facebook Is Being Renamed to Meta — What Exactly Does the Term Mean?

Facebook's new name, Meta, has several meanings. Here's what you should know about what Meta stands for and why it has been chosen as the new name.

Leila Kozma - Author

Oct. 29 2021, Published 9:50 a.m. ET

As part of Facebook Connect 2021, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the latest plans to rebrand Facebook, the global company behind social media websites like Facebook and Instagram, and VR headset brands like Oculus VR.

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The parent company will be renamed Meta. What's more, it will also shift its focus toward the creation of the so-called metaverse, which aims to usher in the next era of tech consumption. So, what does Meta mean?

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Facebook, the corporate entity that owns Instagram, WhatsApp, and the like, will be renamed to Meta.

The new name will apply to the company behind popular social media platforms like Instagram. The name of Facebook, the platform allowing people to connect with friends and acquaintances, will remain unchanged. Critics claim the measures were introduced, at least in part, to reinstill trust in the company.

As Mark explained during a presentation held as part of Facebook Connect 2021, the new name means "beyond" in Greek. The name hints at the larger-scale goals of the company, which involve the creation of a more immersive and all-encompassing type of virtual sphere.

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"I think we're basically moving from being Facebook first as a company to being metaverse first," Mark told The Verge. "I think that there was just a lot of confusion and awkwardness about having the company brand be also the brand of one of the social media apps. 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."

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Per The Verge, the rebrand also echoes sci-fi novels like Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and Steven Spielberg's 2018 movie, Ready Player One.

As some social media users have pointed out, the Hebrew meaning of "meta" is "dead."

Several people have taken to Twitter to reveal that the larger-scale rebrand has an unexpected downside.

As social media users like Danielle Halpern (@DanielleHalpern) and Elad Appel @AppelElad prompted, "meta" means dead in Hebrew. As such, it doesn't necessarily conjure the same connotations for a Hebrew-speaking person as it would for someone well-versed in Greek.

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"Are you aware that Meta in Hebrew means dead (the accurate literal meaning a woman that died. For instance, to say Facebook Meta in Hebrew means Facebook died)," tweeted @AppelElad.

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The Facebook Papers recently drew even more attention to the company.

Leaked by a former employee, Frances Haugen, the Facebook Papers highlight the company's failures to accurately censor incendiary content in the U.S. and across the world, among many other shortcomings.

Per The Washington Post, Facebook successfully introduced "break the glass" measures — which aimed to crack down on politically charged content, such as fake news, ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election — but they revoked them too quickly.

"As soon as the election was over, they turned them back off or they changed the settings back to what they were before, to prioritize growth over safety. And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me," Frances told The Guardian. "Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, and [Facebook] will make less money."

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