Facebook has just recently rebranded the company to Meta. Facebook, the social media site, remains unchanged, though the larger corporation has decided to shake things up. During this change, one may ponder why it may decide to rebrand.

One thought is that they aim to avoid confusion. As Facebook grew, it was no longer simply a social media site. More and more programs and projects were acquired until a line formed, separating the site from a larger corporation. Changing the company name to Meta would distinguish the actual company from its first and most successful project. A more conspiratorial idea is that Meta aims to separate itself from the numerous scandals and public bashings that it has received in the past.

Facebook was somewhat troubling from the start. A drunken Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, thought it would be a funny idea to create a “hot or not” game out of various female Harvard students in 2003. This site would be called FaceMash. Of course, the site was reported to the Harvard administration, and the site was taken down within days. Zuckerberg had numerous charges laid at his feet, among them being breach of privacy and violation of copyright. These charges were soon dropped.

Not long after, in 2004, Zuckerberg decided to create an online face book (a student directory) for Harvard, seeing as these were not easily attainable at the time and Zuckerberg thought Harvard would not get around to it for years. One of his primary goals in creating this site was to allow people to connect over it. He finished development of the site, calling it TheFacebook. He announced it in an email newsletter, and within the day, over 1,000 people had registered.

A resounding success at Harvard, Zuckerberg and his partner, Eduardo Saverin, sought to expand the site. Soon it reached other Ivy League universities, then colleges and universities around the United States and Canada. It then gradually reached schools around the globe, and decided to allow high school students to use it as well. Later that year, the website changed its name to Facebook. In 2005, Facebook had over 6 million users.

In 2006, the site expanded further to companies and then to anybody over 13 with a valid email. The site continued to grow rapidly, becoming a social media giant. Facebook decided to go public in the stock market in 2012. Yahoo! decided to sue Facebook for various patent infringements, in light of the announcement of going public. Facebook rebutted in court, and got away with little to no damages. The site continued to grow and grow. In 2016, Facebook had an astounding 1.8 billion users. This means, as of 2016, 24% of the entire world had a Facebook account.

Surely a social media site, hosting a quarter of the world’s personal data, would be extra careful and restrained with such popularity and power. Right? Over the years, Facebook has been faced with lawsuits and scandals galore, some of which already being mentioned here. There have been so many scandals that it would simply take too long to cover each and every one. Instead, let’s focus on the biggest of them all. But first, a lightning round of those not fully covered here: tax evasion, employee mistreatment, poor psychological effects on users, copying competitors’ features, reluctance to handle inappropriate content (including, but not limited to: incitement of violence against minorites, anti-semitism, pro-anorexia/mafia groups, child abuse pages, white supremacist pages/groups, and pandemic misinformation), fake accounts, and inappropriate advertising.

Facebook’s largest scandal was one concerning the British consultation firm, specializing in political advertisements, Cambridge Analytica. Data was collected through an app called “This Is Your Digital Life”, developed by data scientist Aleksandr Hogan. People would use the app, answering questions, and allowing the app's creators to view resultant psychological profiles. Thanks to Facebook’s Open Graph platform, Cambridge Analytica was able to collect data on all of the friends of people who had used “This Is Your Digital Life” as well. Cambridge Analytica was able to amass the personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users. All of this data went to some clients of Cambridge Analytica, providing analytical assistance to the 2016 campaigns of both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. After this news was leaked to a few press sources by a former Cambridge Analytica employee, it spread like wildfire. Millions were outraged at Facebook's flippancy and undisclosed usage of their personal data. In 2019, Zuckerberg spoke in front of Congress and was forced to pay a $5,000,000,000 fine. Cambridge Analytica soon filed for bankruptcy.

Facebook was a dazzling success from the start, and only reached greater heights over the years. Despite its numerous lawsuits, scandals, and public bashings, it still remains wildly successful. Though Facebook’s reputation as a respectable and safe social media site has been irreparably damaged, it likely won’t be going anywhere soon.