Facebook has announced a major rebrand with a new corporate name, Meta, after outlining plans to build a “metaverse” based around cutting-edge technology such as virtual reality (VR).

Facebook has been central to the social media boom during the last 15 years, but it now wants to shift its focus elsewhere amid concerns about how it collects data and handles user safety.

Meta will be a new parent company that owns its “family of apps”, which include Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, while supporting its work on building “technology to connect people”.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spoken in the past about the importance of augmented reality (AR) and VR.

He now wants Meta to create a vast online world where different forms of technology are connected and are capable of supporting work, play and communications.

Zuckerberg said that the name change would better reflect its efforts to build tech for the future, as opposed to its previous name, Facebook, which was “tightly linked” to a single product.

He added: “We’re now looking at and reporting on our business as two different segments, one for our family of apps, and one for our work on future platforms.”

The “metaverse” is a new concept that Zuckerberg hopes will be built on and eventually enable users to access a virtual environment where they will actually feel like they are with other people.

The major change comes after leaked documents showed that Facebook had reportedly failed to counter hate speech on its platform and put profits over the safety of its users.