Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Zuckerberg Meta

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company's renaming to Meta during the Facebook Connect virtual and augmented reality conference on October 28, 2021. (Photo: Meta)

'Don't Be Fooled': Critics of Facebook Say Name Change Can't Hide Company's Harm

"Changing their name doesn't change reality: Facebook is destroying our democracy and is the world's leading peddler of disinformation and hate."

Brett Wilkins

Tech ethicists and branding professionals on Thursday said consumers should not be hoodwinked by Facebook's name change, which numerous observers compared to earlier efforts by tobacco and fossil fuel companies to distract attention from their societal harms.

"Don't be fooled. Nothing changes here. This is just a publicity stunt hatched by Facebook's PR department to deflect attention as Zuckerberg squirms."

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the Meta rechristening during Facebook Connect, the company's annual virtual and augmented reality conference, explaining that "we are a company that builds technology to connect people and the metaverse is the next frontier, just like social networking was when we got started."

"Some of you might be wondering why we're doing this right now," he added. "The answer is that I believe that we're put on this Earth to create. I believe that technology can make our lives better."

Many critics found Zuckerberg's explanation unconvincing at best and, at worst, disingenuous.

"Changing their name doesn't change reality: Facebook is destroying our democracy and is the world's leading peddler of disinformation and hate," the watchdog group Real Facebook Oversight Board said in a statement. "Their meaningless name change should not distract from the investigation, regulation, and real, independent oversight needed to hold Facebook accountable."

Vahid Razavi, founder of the advocacy group Ethics in Tech, told Common Dreams: "Don't be fooled. Nothing changes here. This is just a publicity stunt hatched by Facebook's PR department to deflect attention as Zuckerberg squirms" over the negative press from recent whistleblower revelations.

Former Facebook employees-turned whistleblowers say the company's profit-seeking algorithms—and its executives who know their insidious impacts—are responsible for the mass dissemination of harmful content, including hate speech and political, climate, and Covid-19 misinformation.

Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies professor at the University of Virginia and author of the book Antisocial Media, told Time that "the Facebook of today has never been the end game for Zuckerberg." 

"He's always wanted his company to be the operating system of our lives that can socially engineer how we live and what we know," Vaidhyanathan continued, adding that the new name is "not going to change his vision for his company—he's never let anybody on the outside change his mind."

Zuckerberg, he said, "wants to take the dynamic of algorithmic guidance out of our phones and off of our computers and build that system into our lives and our consciousness, so our eyeglasses become our screens, and our hands become the mouse."

Some observers compared Facebook's attempt to rebrand itself to what they called similar efforts by Big Tobacco and fossil fuel corporations.

"It didn't do anything," Laurel Sutton, co-founder of the branding agency Catchword, told Time. "People still knew that Altria was Philip Morris and they didn't rehabilitate their reputation simply because they changed the name." 

"There's no name that's going to rehabilitate the behavior that they've displayed so far," Sutton said of the social media giant. "Maybe put that time and energy into rehabilitating their morals and ethics and business decisions rather than just trying to slap a new name on something."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Entirely Reckless': Critics Blast EU Plan to Boost Gas Infrastructure

"Deepening its own dependence on volatile fossil fuels" in response to Russia's attack on Ukraine, said one campaigner, "is the last thing Europe should be doing."

Jessica Corbett ·


Sanders Applauds Denton, Texas for Passing 100th Local Resolution Backing Medicare for All

"The way we will pass Medicare for All," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, "is by continuing to build a strong grassroots movement that is prepared to take on the big money interests."

Jake Johnson ·


US Military Clears Itself of Blame in Syria Strike That Killed 'Piles' of Women and Children

"It's the standard government line: Mistakes were made but there was no wrongdoing. But if the same mistakes were being made over and over again for years, shouldn't someone have done something about it?"

Brett Wilkins ·


House Progressives Urge Executive Action From Biden on Baby Formula 'Emergency'

"We have an infant hunger crisis looming," said Rep. Ayanna Pressley, "and a whole of government response is required."

Kenny Stancil ·


Plan to Discharge Fukushima Water Into Pacific Gets OK From Regulators

The discharge could release a number of radioactive isotopes into the Pacific Ocean, critics say.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo