Matt Vetter (Department of English) and co-authors Brent Lucia (University of Connecticut, English PhD alumnus) and Isaac Adubofour (English PhD candidate) have recently published an article in the journal New Media & Society. "Behold the Metaverse: Facebook's Meta Imaginary and the Circulation of Elite Discourse" examines the portrayal and response to Meta's corporate re-branding and embrace of VR technology.

Despite pushback from regulatory and non-governmental entities, Meta’s control over the public narrative remains consistent. This article reports on a corpus analysis study that investigated the company’s sociotechnical imaginary as it circulates in media artifacts (n = 428) responding to Zuckerberg’s 2021 Metaverse announcement. Analysis of how these artifacts respond to issues related to identity, security, and connectivity revealed that the majority amplify Meta’s corporate messaging, empowering its elite discourse and solidifying its socio-technological power.

As it relates to user privacy, however, this study uncovered a limited number of artifacts in which journalists challenged rather than repeated Meta’s rhetoric. As an implication of this finding, future tech journalism should consider privacy as a starting point for critiques that also interrogate the underlying logic of surveillance capitalism and user exploitation. Ultimately, this article addresses the rhetorical functions deployed in the circulation of elite discourse while acknowledging the dynamism of sociotechnical imaginaries.

Access the article online.

New Media & Society engages in critical discussions of the key issues arising from the scale and speed of new media development, drawing on a wide range of disciplinary perspectives and on both theoretical and empirical research.