Facebook’s recent rebrand to Meta – the new parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp as well as other subsidiaries – has sparked plenty of speculation about the name change itself and future of the company. The rebrand comes amid mounting controversy surrounding a data leak, an antitrust investigation, and whistleblower hearings that continue to put Facebook’s ethics on blast.
A survey of more that 2,700 U.S. adults gauged public opinion on the rebrand and future outlook. First, it found most people either aren’t too keen on the new name or don’t really care that much. Slightly more respondents feel neutral towards “Meta” than dislike it. Just 5% are at all favorable.
Looking at public sentiment behind the name reveals deep-seated problems with trust. Despite Facebook’s status as the world’s most popular social media app, close to three-quarters (73%) of respondents don’t have faith that Meta will protect the personal data of its apps’ users. Just 13% of respondents trust Meta to keep their data safe.
Floundering trust is not just a problem for Meta. General distrust in big tech to protect data and personal privacy is intensifying. The percentage of adults who report having “low” or “no” trust in technology companies has risen from 45% in September to 48% today. Nearly one-half of the population does not trust big tech to keep their data safe, and even more are wary of Meta.
Facebook is earning fewer ‘likes’ these days. Tracking Facebook popularity alone suggests the Gen Pop isn’t feeling too positive right now about the future of the social media platform. Coinciding with the announcement of the Meta rebrand, popularity began to decline the week beginning 10/24 and continues to fall. The percentage of people who think Facebook will become “much less popular” over the next 12 months climbed to 33% this week.
Facebook also currently ranks lowest among top consumer big tech companies in terms of favorability. The majority (58%) of adults are unfavorable to the company (and 38% “strongly dislike” Facebook), while less than 20% are favorable. In comparison, one-half are favorable to Amazon while under one-quarter are not.
Meta plans to develop a “metaverse” of interconnected social media platforms and augmented and virtual reality technologies, hoping to leverage a younger audience base that Facebook currently lacks. Already in the wearables game, the Oculus brand is scheduled for a makeover this coming year, and the company has smart glasses and smartwatches in the works.
Gauging interest in these kinds of products going forward, 12% of respondents say they are likely to try one or more wearable devices from Meta.
Given the still-niche status of AR/VR and wearable tech, that’s not a terrible outlook. In fact, branching out into wearables may help Meta get an edge with Gen Z. One-third say they are likely to try products from the company, and 11% are very likely.
Public opinion is largely sour for Meta. While wearable technology may be a step in the direction towards relevance, Meta certainly has its work cut out in terms of regaining trust, among other challenges.