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Move fast, rename things: Facebook tries to boost morale with new slogans

“Meta. Metamates. Me," a new set of corporate values announced Tuesday, was ridiculed by employees

People stand in front of the entrance sign to Facebook headquarters last year. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
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Meta. Metamates. Me.

At a virtual all-hands meeting Tuesday, Facebook escalated its attempts to not only rebrand itself but also manage its demoralized and often adversarial workforce with a new set of corporate values derived from a naval slogan.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who renamed the company Meta late last year, held up a slide deck showcasing new corporate values: Employees would be expected to first prioritize Meta, followed by a person’s team (metamates), followed by the individual (me). He said that the company’s corporate values would be “Live in the future” and “Be direct and respect your colleagues,” according to three people familiar with the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal matters. It was previously “Be open.”

Years ago, the company’s slogan of “Move fast and break things” was changed to just “Move fast.” On Tuesday, the company announced it would now be “Move fast together.”

The changes to the corporate values were ridiculed by some employees internally, who described them as corporate indoctrination and out of touch, the people said.

Facebook did not immediately have comment.

In a tweet, Facebook chief technology officer Andrew Bosworth said that the saying “Meta. Metamates. Me” was a “reference to a Naval phrase which Instagram has used for a while." The phrase used by Instagram is “Ship, Shipmates, Self," he said. His tweet also said that the term “metamates” was coined by the scholar Douglas Hofstadter after an employee reached out to him for ideas.

The changes reflect Facebook’s pursuit of a new identity after years of controversies that have demoralized its workforce. The company changed its name to Meta to help shift the focus to building hardware, a rebranding that followed revelations by a whistleblower that showed how much the company knew about its damage to society, including negatively affecting the body image of young women and allowing disinformation to spread.

Like whistleblower Frances Haugen, these Facebook employees warned about the company’s problems for years. No one listened.

The town hall meeting was also streamed for the first time on Facebook’s virtual-reality platform, Horizon Venues. The company is attempting to demonstrate the idea that corporate meetings could be held in virtual reality, starting to use its town halls as a test case.

Facebook has long had a workplace culture that has prized openness, but as executives become more paranoid about leaks and reputational damage, that has changed, according to people familiar with the company’s practices who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal matters.

The company’s more than 71,000 employees communicate with one another on Workplace, an internal chat system that looks like Facebook. Employees in the past have engaged in deep debates on Workplace about everything from Black Lives Matter to the election and more. They also posted internal research about products and the company’s impact on society.

Last year, whistleblower Frances Haugen came forward with thousands of company documents that were posted on Workplace showing the company’s research into social harms. Since the Haugen revelations, Facebook has made attempts to shut down certain conversations on Workplace, either by closing groups that were open to larger numbers of people or by having communications personnel tell employees that posted critical comments that they were disrespectful.

Facebook is changing its name to Meta as it focuses on the virtual world

Will Oremus and Nitasha Tiku contributed reporting.