'Facebook at Work' in Development to Compete With LinkedIn

Nov 17, 2014 07:52 AM EST | Matt Mercuro

Facebook is "secretly" working on a new website called "Facebook at Work" that would allow people to keep their personal profile separate from their work profile, according to a report by the Financial Times.

The new site, which will look basically like the normal version of Facebook, will compete with other professional social networking services like LinkedIn.

Facebook's new site will allow users to chat with co-workers, collaborate over documents and connect with professional contacts, the newspaper reported, citing "unidentified sources."

Facebook employees have been using the site in their daily work for a while now, but this is the first time the social networking company has considered making the service available to the public. The company is currently testing it with other companies to see how it goes.

Facebook recorded 1.35 billion monthly active users as of September 2014, though some employers are still skeptical about the usefulness of social media at work. Many companies have banned the site in the office altogether.

LinkedIn, which debuted in 2003, is the largest professional network, with 332 million users in 200 countries, according to its website.

"Facebook at Work is likely to bring some benefits to companies - but not the ones they think," said Prof Andre Spicer, of Cass Business School, according to BBC.com. "It is unlikely to make employees more productive, but it will help them to be more connected and aware. Social media sites like Facebook help employees to build 'weak ties'."

"These are people we would talk to infrequently and don't know intimately, he added. "These weak ties are often a source of important background information. It makes it easier for employees to accidentally leak sensitive information. It can also be a threat to hierarchy and clash with implicit or explicit chains of command."

He also added that the service could be a time-consuming distraction.

"Communication which could easily be dealt with face to face is pushed online - adding another potential source of information overload," Spicer said. "It can also mean employees spend more time polishing their Facebook profile than actually working."

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