By Nicole Lyn Pesce
What’s in a name? An endlessly amusing online parlor game.
Facebook Inc. (NAS:FB) is reportedly rebranding its umbrella of companies , including its namesake social network, Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus, under a new name that focuses less on Facebook, the Verge reported on Tuesday. The name change is expected to be revealed at Facebook’s annual Connect conference on Oct. 28, if not sooner, to align its brands more toward the “metaverse” that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is building.
It appears to be a move similar to what Google did in renaming its parent company Alphabet Inc. (NAS:GOOGL) in 2005, which now includes the signature search engine as well as brands such as YouTube, Fitbit and Waze.
Facebook’s current name has famously evolved from “Facemash,” a 2003 “Hot or Not”-style site that let users compare photos of Zuckerberg’s fellow Harvard students, and vote on which ones they felt were most attractive. ( Harvard soon shut it down for breaching security and violating copyrights and individual privacy, although those charges were later dropped.) The Facebook that many people know and love (and maybe loathe) today ultimately grew out of “TheFacebook” created in 2004 as a social network exclusively for Harvard students.
And people on competing social media site Twitter (NYS:TWTR) were quick to suggest many possible new names for Zuckerberg’s enterprise, which has endured a spate of bad press in recent weeks following reports that Instagram is toxic for teen users , as well as whistleblower Frances Haugen recently testifying before the Senate that Facebook knowingly “amplifies division, extremism and polarization” and puts “ profits before people .”
The proposed names aren’t pretty, and it’s safe to say they probably wouldn’t make it on Zuckerberg’s shortlist. They include “Fakebook,” “Bookface” and “Faceplant,” which were all trending on Twitter on Wednesday morning.
But the odds-on favorite is “Virtuel,” according to one sports betting site, followed by “Connect” and “Horizon.”
Indeed, the Verge report also leaned toward something related to Horizon, which is already the name of the still-unreleased VR version of Facebook that the company has been developing.
Many critics suggested that Facebook is rebranding in order to save face following its recent scandals.
And then there were the memes.
The name game is playing out just days after Facebook announced that it’s creating 10,000 new jobs in the European Union over the next five years as it continues building out its “metaverse” platform, which the company described in a blog post as “ a new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality.”
The company also expected to announce its third-quarter earnings Oct. 25. Facebook (NAS:FB) shares are up about 25% year to date, compared to the S&P 500’s (S&P:SPX) 20% gain.