Facebook has unveiled its new social network solely for businesses, opening it up for trial partners to experiment on whether using Facebook at Work could make employees more productive.Facebook At Work is a collaboration tool that lets colleagues communicate through a web interface or a mobile app, instead of using email. The software is still in the early stages, the company said.
Facebook At Work looks and feels similar to Facebook’s familiar social network service, with a few key differences. There are no advertisements and the company doesn’t track users or hold their data.
With the workplace app, Facebook is entering unfamiliar territory. Facebook’s specialty is growing entertaining products into viral phenomena and then selling ads against the massive audiences. The potential growth numbers for the new product is likely to be much smaller, and Facebook likely will charge a subscription fee for its use, rather than sell advertising.
Facebook at Work has the same look, apps, and tools as the Facebook we’ve seen before. It will exist as a separate portal on the desktop, as well as on separate apps for iPhones and Android devices. A mobile web version will also be available. The only thing that looks different is the color scheme of Facebook at Work’s interface, which is shaded white instead of Facebook’s trademark blue—making it easy for employers to tell whether you’re on “personal Facebook” or Facebook at Work with a glance. Facebook says a key feature of the app is Groups, which the company believes could replace email lists that appear never-ending and seem to grow larger with time.
Facebook’s selling point will be familiarity, which should make it easier for people to adapt to the service. Lars Rasmussen, the engineering director at Facebook who worked on the new software, said in an email, “We’ve been using Facebook for work for many years now internally, and we’ve gained a lot of insight into how people can collaborate more efficiently.”
Facebook, however, could face trust issues from chief information officers wary of allowing a company that specializes in gathering personal data to tap into sensitive corporate conversations.
A Facebook spokeswoman said Facebook will gather no data on corporate users and the actions of Facebook At Work users will not change their usual Facebook profiles.