What happened to the Instagram handle “Meta”?

When Facebook announced that it would be renaming Meta, the company was prepared. Immediately after Mark Zuckerberg delivered a meandering keynote praising the benefits of the Metaverse, the company announced that it had repainted its iconic “thumbs up” sign located at its Menlo Park headquarters. Many of his social media accounts have also been switched from Facebook to Meta.

Except for a key account, that is. As many pointed out at the time, the company did not control the @meta handle on Instagram. It belonged to a small Denver-based magazine called META. On the day Facebook announced, the company that publishes lifestyle stories about motorcycles posted a photo with various print editions with the caption “Since 2014”

That evening, the recent posts on the @meta account were filled with comments encouraging the owner to “hold” the account or at least sell it at a high price. “Hold and Sell High,” wrote one user. But the next day the account mysteriously disappeared because Quartz reported. It’s unclear what exactly happened, but @Meta has now taken over all of the content from the previous @ Facebook Instagram page. Posts on the account are from before October 28th, as if the social network had always controlled it. Articles from META, the magazine, now appear under the @readmeta handle.

The publisher META did not respond to requests for comments. But there are still traces of his former Instagram account on his website. The company’s website still links to its old account. Oddly enough, clicking this link from the publisher’s website results in an error, even though it points to the same url as the meta account now owned by Facebook.

Screenshot / Engadget

META co-founder and editor-in-chief Ben Geise announced Tuesday that the latest issue of the magazine will be the last under the name used for more than eight years. “We value our individuality above all else. When the news broke that a Goliath company was changing its name to Meta, it felt like a punch in the pit of the stomach, ”he wrote in a blog entry. “With the flick of a switch, our identities were suddenly watered down and we saw our name circling the drain and being washed away with something we had no control over.”

Geise didn’t respond to requests for comment, so it’s difficult to know exactly what happened. However, Instagram’s terms of use state that companies cannot “reserve” handles. And the terms state that companies cannot claim trademark infringement if the account holder uses them for any other purpose. “Using someone else’s trademark in a way that has nothing to do with the product or service for which the trademark was granted is not a violation of Instagram’s trademark policy,” the policy states conditions. “Instagram usernames are provided on a first-come-first-served basis.”

Of course, accounts and handles often trade with hands anyway. It has been known that companies use escrow services to negotiate bank transfers while others have used it seedier marketplaces to gain access to accounts with desirable handles.

But the practice is too officially banned according to the terms of use of Instagram. “You cannot sell, license or buy any accounts or data that you receive from us or our service,” states the terms of service. “This includes attempts to buy, sell, or transfer any aspect of your account (including your username); Request, collect or use credentials or badges from other users; or request or collect Instagram usernames, passwords or inappropriate access tokens. “

That begs the question of whether Facebook has bypassed its own rules to gain access to a coveted username that other users are routinely banned from. Or whether the company found another reason to take over the account. An Instagram spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the moment, the META publishing house is concentrating on the future. “Our brand is much more than just a name. We represent a way of life, ”wrote Geise. “We speak to inspire and encourage the rare kind of people who are brave enough to pursue their dreams and never look back.”

Update 12/16 7:10 p.m. ET: A spokesman for Meta said no trademark claims or legal threats had been made against publisher META, but did not want to comment on whether the social network had contacted the magazine or whether they had been compensated for their username. “We allow people to change their usernames on Instagram,” Meta spokesman Stepahnie Otway said in a statement.

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