Meta, the new umbrella name for Facebook is causing much debate. Twitter has been alight with rude (meta means ‘dead’ in Hebrew) and amusing comments. But there are some serious questions about what comes next.
The Meta name change seems to be part of a major reshuffle at the company. The payments division, for example, has recently had an umbrella unfurled over it and it follows the example of Alphabet.
It all makes sense and it reflects the new mission to create, or help create the metaverse. Indeed the company has announced that it will invest $10 billion to this end.
Setting aside this new and windswept goal, the question is: will it slow down the lawmakers who are furious about the allegations that Facebook, the platform, puts profit before safety?
One answer is that it will make it more complicated to get to grips with which particular entity a lawmaker is trying to go after.
The other answer is that, complicated or not, lawmakers are pretty determined to stop the damage being done by the Meta family, as well as other platforms. And whether Frances Haugen was a genuine whistleblower or a set-up is immaterial.
The fact is that social media platforms have blown the pendulum of free speech miles too far towards ‘free’ – to the point of it being too far to bring back some sort of common sense.
Behind the scenes, similar battles are being fought between the new Trillion Dollar Club (MAMATA) and regulators, and it will not be an easy battle, given that MAMATA is jointly worth around $10 trillion.
Apple is fighting its EPIC battle, trying to stop regulators from insisting that it offer third party payments options easily. Google is fighting to stop Australia from insisting that it offer a browser ‘choice screen’ on its smartphones.
And Meta is staving off criticism around the world for not putting safety first, and then over-reacting when it was too late.
What is interesting about Meta is that, while everybody – including us – has been focusing on privacy and evil content and rapacious advertising practices, it has been working hard in the background to ensure that it is not a one-trick pony.
Not only is it leading the Telecom Infra Project but Facebook – sorry Meta, – and others are now the big infrastructure players. Instead of buying telcos, they built their own infrastructure. They own (and are building) more data centres, more cable and more infrastructure than the telcos. Just look at the market cap of AT&T at a mere $180 billion, and you see what has happened.
With companies like Meta being the size of countries, it is going to be a tough fight for lawmakers to bring them under control.