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Meta: Facebook's new name focuses on metaverse -- and everything else announced Thursday

At Facebook Connect 2021, the company pushes further into what it believes is the future of technology.

Metaverse and life in virtual reality

Facebook believes that in the future, we'll meet up with friends in the "metaverse."

Facebook

Facebook wants to look toward the future, and it's taking on a new name to emphasize that. Facebook is renaming itself Meta.

After weeks of intense scrutiny brought on after a whistleblower leaked thousands of internal research documents and memos to regulators, lawmakers and the press, Facebook tried to turn a page by focusing on its futuristic technology.

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To Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, the future of technology is about digital worlds where we can interact with one another. These worlds, which he calls the "metaverse," will allow for new types of art, music, entertainment and business. And, the company said, it'll be built responsibly, with privacy and interoperability in mind.

"If we all work at it, and within the next decade, the metaverse will reach a billion people, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and support jobs for millions of creators and developers," Zuckerberg said during a presentation at Facebook's Connect conference on Thursday. "We are fully committed to this."

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Facebook's metaverse efforts are still in their infancy, and as part of them the company announced a series of software tools including technology that lets people control programs with their voice or hands. Facebook is also expanding its hardware offerings.

"This is the next chapter of our work, and, we believe, for the internet overall," Zuckerberg said.

Meta's efforts come as the company confronts one of its largest ever controversies. Over the past week, more than a dozen news outlets have published stories based on that trove of leaked Facebook documents, following a series that The Wall Street Journal published about them called The Facebook Files. The stories pointed to internal research, memos and debate that underscored the challenges the company faces as it tries to police its social networks around the globe. 

Zuckerberg addressed the leaked documents on Monday, saying the company is trying to balance free expression with efforts to reduce harmful content. More than 40,000 people work on safety and security at Facebook, and the social network expects to spend more than $5 billion on safety and security in 2021, he said. Content moderation in virtual reality, though, has its own challenges.

At its annual virtual reality-focused conference Thursday, Zuckerberg laid out his vision for how we'll work and play in the metaverse. He also discussed the company's next-generation virtual reality headset, Cambria. Like other VR headsets, Cambria brings a screen so close to your eyes that you think you're in the virtual world. But it also senses emotion in a wearer's face, transmitting it into the "metaverse."

Here's everything Facebook announced during its connect conference:

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Facebook

Metaverse

The big news item out of Facebook's announcements is that the company's new name is Meta. Zuckerberg said the new moniker nods not only to the metaverse he wants to build, but also to the meaning of "meta" from the Greek: "beyond."

"It symbolizes that there is always more to build," Zuckerberg said. "There's always a next chapter to the story."

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Facebook

New tools and hardware

Facebook also announced new hardware and software tools.

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Facebook

New apps

Zuckerberg also announced new apps coming from various partners.