Appearing as a cartoon avatar in an October keynote, then Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made two huge announcements: his company would rename itself Meta, and it would focus from that point forward on building the “metaverse,” a virtual realm that believers say heralds the future of the internet. The move immediately mainstreamed the concept, pressured rivals like Microsoft and Google to trumpet similar efforts, and sparked an investment frenzy in companies working on anything perceived as even remotely metaverse-adjacent. But investors have since cooled on the idea, and Apple’s ad-targeting clampdown didn’t help either—by March 2022, Meta’s value was nearly half of the $1 trillion peak it hit in June 2021. Moreover, concerns remained about whistle-blower Frances Haugen’s revelations that the company knew more than it had previously revealed about Facebook’s detrimental effects on users’ mental health and global democracy.
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