Back in late October 2021, when Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook’s parent company was changing its name to Meta, the launch received mixed reviews. Some were surprised, others treated it as a big ho-hum.

The timing caused some extra buzz, as coverage got split with the whistleblower who shared (um, confirmed?), some of the motivations behind the company’s actions and decision-making. 

Now that a few months have gone by, I thought it would be interesting to put the Meta makeover into a bigger context, and look at how it’s shaping up for us as entrepreneurs and community members. 

Facebook—the social media platform—is of course still Facebook; Meta is the umbrella company staking it’s claim on a big, futurist idea of where life is headed—the metaverse.

🤷🏽 What IS this metaverse, and did Facebook create it?

According to the company’s own info page*: “The metaverse is the next evolution of social connection. Our company’s vision is to help bring the metaverse to life, so we are changing our name to reflect our commitment to this future.”

*(View the full keynote if you have 78 minutes; or use their smart Contents list to jump right to the parts that interest you.)

Even if you’re not big into gaming, this concept might sound familiar. Have you ever dabbled on the digital arena called Second Life? It’s continued to evolve and grow since it started back in the 2000s. 

That’s the metaverse idea, on steroids… It extends your ability to connect with people… or make it possible to live in 2 (or more) totally different worlds. You can even make real money in virtual spaces.

  • 🧑🏽‍💻 Imagine a virtual work space where you can do whatever it is you do—but moving in and out of “virtual” spaces online. 
  • 🦸 Some could blur the lines between real and virtual using “augmented” reality. (What’s that? This :60 video brings it to life though still only the tip of the iceberg.)
  • 📍People and companies exploring this direction envision all sorts of possibilities. One app, Spotselfie, will sell you some virtual land at any real GPS location… and you’ll get a revenue share from Augmented Reality advertising placed there!

Though Meta re-brand planning was already in the works long before the whistleblower’s appearance before Congress, this year’s changes are linked to the growing opinion that Facebook/Meta has to take a more active role in managing its “community.” 

🎯 Change #1: Limitations on targeting in ads to Facebook users is being implemented

One change that’s rolling out now that will impact some, is that you won’t be able to set up a new ad campaign in Facebook using four previously-available targeting options: 

  • health causes, 
  • religious practices/groups,
  • sexual orientation, 
  • anything political (which includes anything from political parties or campaigns, or social causes or organization). If you have one running now, the change won’t hit you until late March.

Search Engine Journal provides some good context for this:

“On one hand, a high degree of targeting precision supports creating highly personalized experiences, which allow for relevant and valuable user interaction.

At the same time, there is rising sensitivity when people are identified based on their affiliation to social causes, health conditions, or demographic characteristics.

Having taken this into account, Facebook is thus limiting advertising options to no longer allow targeting based on these sensitive parameters.

If you’re not running ads, or not targeting these ways, there’s no change for you.

🔐 Change #2: Privacy Center puts more info and control in users’ hands

Privacy Center is coming to your dashboard this year (in phases, as always).  Through this new feature, you’ll be able to get more details on specific ways that the platform is using your data, and make decisions on what you do or don’t want. 

It’s divided into 5 areas: Security, Sharing, Collection, Use (how and why FB uses data), and Ads (which you see, and why)

When announcing it in early January 2022, Meta said“Today, we’re introducing Privacy Center to educate people on their privacy options and make it easier to understand how we collect and use information.

For now, there aren’t any huge “meta” changes as a result of the coming Meta-morphosis. But I’ll keep you posted as developments happen! Follow me on your favorite social site for the latest news and tips by tapping one of the links up top.