The Californian company has chained up scandals since a former employee, who became a whistleblower, leaked internal documents to the press.
The Silicon Valley giant, which fears a dismantling or forced regulation on the part of American elected officials, is now trying somehow to restore its image.
New name, “metaverse” project…, Mark Zuckerberg multiplies the backfires in an attempt to regain the trust of users, and keep that of his investors.
Nothing is going well for Facebook… The Californian company has been chaining scandals for a few weeks.
Mark Zuckerberg's group is going through a particularly difficult period since a former employee turned whistleblower, Frances Haugen, leaked internal documents to the press, accusing the platform of putting "profits before the safety" of its employees. users.
Under pressure, and overwhelmed from all sides after new revelations unveiled again this week by the American media, the giant of Silicon Valley which fears a dismantling or a forced regulation on the part of the American elected officials, is trying today as best they can to restore its image, by diverting attention with new projects, and by announcing a name change for the group.
A new name for a new era?
To try to get through this serious reputation crisis which tarnishes its image, the Californian company could indeed announce this Thursday evening, on the occasion of the Facebook Connect conference [annual conference of the company], the creation of a new parent company overseeing its various services (the social network Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, etc.). Mark Zuckerberg's group would not be the first pillar of the Internet to change its name. It would follow in the footsteps of Google, which in 2015 reorganized its activities by creating a parent company called Alphabet, which manages the search engine, the YouTube platform, the autonomous car subsidiary Waymo, and other entities of the group.
NGOs and professionals in the digital world quickly accused the American giant of trying to distract the public by trying to make people forget the many scandals in which it is entangled. "Facebook thinks changing its name can help it change the subject," an anti-Facebook association, which ironically calls itself the "Real Facebook Oversight Board", said in a statement. “It's a sign that they are willing to do anything to distract from their failure to clean up their hate-filled platforms. Whatever they call themselves, the problem remains, (…) they need real and independent regulation, right away, ”added the association.
If you give a broken product a new name, people will quite quickly work out that this new brand has the same problems.
A better 'rebrand' approach is generally to fix the problem first and then create a new brand reflecting the new experience.
- Benedict Evans (@benedictevans) October 20, 2021
"If you give a new name to a product that no longer works, people will quickly understand that the new brand has the same problems," tweeted Benedict Evans, an independent analyst specializing in Silicon Valley.
“A better approach would be to solve the problem, and then create a new brand that reflects the new product,” he added.
The "metaverse" project to make people forget the scandals
According to the specialized American site The Verge, the new name must also serve to reflect the efforts led by the group to build the “metaverse” (contraction of “meta-universe”), a new obsession of Mark Zuckerberg, considered as a possible future of the Internet, in which technologies will make it possible to navigate in a universe parallel to the real world.
Convinced that the future of mobile Internet will pass through a virtual and persistent platform accessible using virtual reality glasses in which it will be possible to play, discuss, work and attend immersive events without leaving home, the billionaire thus wishes to forget the recent scandals with this pharaonic project.
He plans to spend $ 10 billion and hire 10,000 people in Europe to work on the subject in the next few years.
A barely diverted way, for some specialists, to influence the European Union, currently in the process of completing the writing of two major legislative texts to better regulate platforms, the Digital Services Act (DSA), and the Digital Market Act (DMA).
Attract more "young people" to go up the slope
Another project on which Facebook has decided to bet to try to restore its image, young people. For the first time since the start of the "Facebook papers", the boss of Facebook spoke to investors on Monday, seeking to minimize the impact of recent revelations by ensuring that Facebook would solve its problems by attracting more young people. During the presentation of the financial results of the third quarter, Mark Zuckerberg indeed insisted on the importance of bringing back the under 25 years in the folds of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp to ensure the financial sustainability of the company.
Internal Facebook documents provided by whistleblower Frances Haugen indicate that the American group has long recognized that it is no longer the idol of young people. The number of adolescents born in 2003 who connect to the platform has fallen by 13% since 2019, and is expected to drop by 45% in the next two years, underlines the site The Verge. Hence the urgency for Facebook to reassure advertisers and the financial markets on this subject. However, the latter do not seem too worried for the moment, given the latest financial results of the group: turnover is up 35% over one year, and profits are up 17%. Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp even have 12% more users.
This is not the first time that the social network has faced such a controversy, causing a serious crisis of confidence on the part of its users.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal, involving a massive data leak, and the one on the Russian propaganda campaign before the 2016 US presidential election, had failed at the time to shake investor support, US channel CNN recalls. .
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