Facebook rebrands itself and reshuffles its executive suite.
Facebook has announced the company wants to steer away from political content, reach every connected device globally and expand into the metaverse—a more immersive experience built upon virtual reality and augmented reality.
To spearhead these efforts, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg appointed Andrew Bosworth, currently head of the hardware division, as the company’s new chief technology officer starting in 2022. Bosworth will replace Mike Schroepfer, who is stepping down after 13 years.
The executive reshuffling is unlikely to usher in radical change at the social network, skeptics argue. Despite the recently announced attempt to revamp its image with a new name—”Meta”—the online giant remains mired in regulatory and legal controversies regarding its business practices.
Bosworth met Zuckerberg at Harvard, where Bosworth was a teaching assistant for a class in artificial intelligence. He joined Facebook in 2006 as one of its first engineers. That same year, he masterminded News Feed, the constantly flowing list of updates from friends and one of the company’s most successful launches. He then went on to develop the platform’s chat, email and video-calling services.
Since 2017 he has led Facebook’s Reality Labs, which focuses on augmented and virtual reality products. As one of Zuckerberg’s most trusted confidants, Bosworth—as a leaked memo and some past statements indicate—sees eye to eye with his boss. The Bosworth appointment makes clear that Facebook is not seeking to change its controversial business practices.
Rather, it is doubling down, according to Katina Michael, a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence at Arizona State University. “The metaverse will seek to know everything about everyone on and off its platform,” she says. “This will be a next-level implementation of behavioral economics and persuasive design exploitation.” However, companies that release emerging technologies and services are consistently outpacing laws and regulations.
The “metaverse” that Bosworth is to help build is being sold in a PR blitz as the “new internet,” but is instead, Michael argues, merely a distraction to deflect attention “from Facebook’s increasing woes.”