Earlier this week, Facebook announced that it would be changing its company name to “Meta.” The social media giant was quickly mocked online after it was pointed out that the new name sounds like the Hebrew word for “dead.”
Specifically, Meta is pronounced like the feminine form of the Hebrew word for “dead.”
Some even used the hashtag, “FacebookDead,” on Twitter.
In Hebrew, *Meta* means *Dead*
The Jewish community will ridicule this name for years to come.
— Nirit Weiss-Blatt, PhD (@DrTechlash) October 28, 2021
According to the BBC, “The emergency rescue volunteers Zaka even got involved, telling their followers on Twitter: ‘Don’t worry, we’re on it.’”
As the BBC noted, this isn’t the first time a company has faced ridicule over a rebranding choice.
In the 1980s, KFC’s “finger-lickin’ good” translated to Mandarin as “eat your fingers off.” Rolls-Royce had to change the name of its “Silver Mist” model, as “mist” translates to “excrement” in German. And Nokia’s “Lumia” phone is also a synonym for “prostitute” in Spanish.
“Announcing [Meta] — the Facebook company’s new name,” Facebook announced on Twitter. “Meta is helping to build the metaverse, a place where we’ll play and connect in 3D. Welcome to the next chapter of social connection.”
Announcing @Meta — the Facebook company’s new name. Meta is helping to build the metaverse, a place where we’ll play and connect in 3D. Welcome to the next chapter of social connection. pic.twitter.com/ywSJPLsCoD
— Meta (@Meta) October 28, 2021
The name change was formally announced by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the company’s virtual reality and augmented reality conference, Facebook Connect.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about our identity as we begin this next chapter. Facebook is one of the most used products in the history of the world,” Zuckerberg said, according to CNN. “It is an iconic social media brand, but increasingly it just doesn’t encompass everything that we do.”
“Today we’re seen as a social media company,” he added, “but in our DNA, 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.”
“I know that some people will say that this isn’t a time to focus on the future, and I want to acknowledge that there are important issues to work on in the present. There always will be,” Zuckerberg said. “So for many people, I’m just not sure there ever will be a good time to focus on the future. But I also know that there are a lot of you who feel the same way that I do.”
“We live for what we’re building,” Zuckerberg added. “And while we make mistakes, we keep learning and building and moving forward.”
“Your devices won’t be the focal point of your attention anymore,” he said. “We’re starting to see a lot of these technologies coming together in the next five or 10 years. A lot of this is going to be mainstream and a lot of us will be creating and inhabiting worlds that are just as detailed and convincing as this one, on a daily basis.”
In September, in a blog post titled, “Building the Metaverse Responsibly,” Facebook announced a “$50 million investment in global research and program partners to ensure these products are developed responsibly.”