This fall, as universities geared up to welcome students to campus for the first time in two years, Facebook made a radical announcement: as of October, Facebook is no longer, but is now to be called Meta, for metaverse. But what is the metaverse, why did Facebook change, and what does that mean for companies?
The term “metaverse” was first coined by sci-fi author Neal Stephenson, meaning a virtual world that people used to escape from the real world. The 2011 novel
Ready Player One again popularized the term, pushing the concept of a 3D virtual world where real people could exist in avatars. Outside of sci-fi, the metaverse is sometimes used as an umbrella term for any futuristic technology relating to 3D or virtual worlds, but as Facebook simply defines it, the metaverse is “a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.”