Facebook at Work arrives to create thousands of small social networks

15 Jan 2015

Social networking giant Facebook has released Facebook at Work to allow companies to create their own internal online networks on desktop and mobile.

Last November, Siliconrepublic.com highlighted the future launch of Facebook at Work and now it has come to fruition with both employers and employees being able to talk to one another in a format almost identical to the public version, but on a platform home to more spreadsheets than cat pictures.

Users of the service will also be able to link their own personal account with their work account, which could have users mistakenly posting embarrassing details with the wrong click of a mouse.

A number of similar work network services already exist including Microsoft’s Yammer, as well as Convo and Socialcast, but Facebook’s brand will no doubt give its service considerable sway against its predecessors.

According to Facebook’s engineering director Lars Rasmussen, Facebook at Work will be targeted at companies with more than 100 employees. Facebook has put the service through beta testing among a small number of companies, but Rasmussen stressed that in effect the service has been in development since Facebook’s earliest days with its own internal chat system.

Mixing business with pleasure?

However, not everyone believes Facebook at Work will prove to be a successful venture and see it as having a number of potential pitfalls.

John Baptista, associate professor of information systems at Warwick Business School in Coventry, England, said there will be inevitable scepticism from companies, wondering what Facebook will do with any data sent through the service, as well as scepticism from employees who fear the service could encroach on their personal lives.

“Individuals still worry about mixing personal and work profiles and interactions. While being able to use similar features and a more seamless experience across work and personal digital interactions may be attractive to some, it will also scare many others who might worry about posting and profile sharing across personal and work spheres,” said Baptista.

With the other competitive edge being its free availability, Facebook at Work will be accessible through its own URL on desktops and through iOS, with details for Android expected to be announced relatively soon.

Facebook on laptop image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic