Changing Facebook’s name won’t deter lawmakers or regulatory review, experts say


October 20 (Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) name change is unlikely to allow the tech giant to distance itself from regulatory and public scrutiny of the potential damage caused by its social media apps, marketing and branding experts told Reuters.

Tech publication The Verge reported on Tuesday that the California-based company plans to change its branding to reflect this, in addition to owning the social media platform that made it a household name around the world, it now also includes d ‘other successful businesses like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus.

The company declined to comment on the report on a possible rebranding. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

Facebook is battling close scrutiny after a whistleblower leaked thousands of internal documents that showed it was contributing to increased polarization online when it changed its content algorithm, failed to take steps to reduce the reluctance to vaccinate and was aware that the popular social media app Instagram was damaging teenage mental health.

The US Senate held a hearing earlier this month on the effect of Instagram on young users.

“Lawmakers and politicians are smart enough not to be fooled by a rebranding,” said James Cordwell, Internet analyst at Atlantic Equities.

The name change can be an effective strategy for enabling affiliate brands to maintain their own reputation, said Marisa Mulvihill, brand and activation manager at Prophet, a branding and marketing consultancy. But the media and regulators “aren’t going to stop investigating or creating reforms just because you’ve changed your name,” she added.

The new name of the parent company may reflect Facebook’s focus on building the “metaverse,” reported The Verge, referring to a proposed digital world where people can use different devices to move and communicate in one environment. virtual.

It could also prevent a possible negative perception of Facebook’s name from affecting WhatsApp, the messaging app used by nearly 2 billion people worldwide, and Oculus, its virtual reality brand, experts say.

According to Prophet’s annual ranking, the relevance of the Facebook brand to American consumers has dropped “precipitously” in recent years, Mulvihill said.

“What you don’t want is for it to proliferate and have a negative halo effect on other parts of your business,” said Deborah Stafford-Watson, chief strategy officer at brand consulting firm Elmwood. .

Other large companies have taken similar steps. Google reorganized under a holding company called Alphabet (GOOGL.O) in 2015, as the company best known for its internet research increasingly pursued ambitions such as autonomous driving technology.

In 2003, cigarette seller Philip Morris changed its name to Altria (MO.N), at a time when the company owned Kraft Foods. He then spun off the food division.

While the decision to rename Altria did not remove the negative connotations of tobacco from the cigarette brands themselves, it did help limit the effects on Kraft, Mulvihill said.

Facebook will continue to face the same pressures even after a rebranding, experts said.

“I don’t think it’s going to help Facebook ease regulatory scrutiny or general public skepticism, if not mistrust,” said Natasha Jen, partner at Pentagram, a design studio that does advertising and communications work. . “Confidence is something you have to earn.”

Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas and Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm, additional reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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