Facebook targets workplaces with new professional networking site

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Facebook is taking aim at the likes of Google and LinkedIn with a bid to drive business users to the social networking site.

The company is developing a site called Facebook at Work that will allow users to chat and collaborate on documents with colleagues, and connect with contacts, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Thousands of companies use email, chat and collaboration tools offered by the likes of Google and Microsoft, while LinkedIn has become the most widely used site for professional networking.

Many companies prevent their employees from logging on to their Facebook accounts on work computers, though the rise of smartphones has made that less of a barrier to using the social network during office hours.

The new site is expected to look very similar to Facebook’s interface, with its newsfeed and groups, but allow users to keep their personal information entirely separate from their work profile.

For the venture to prove a success, Facebook would have to win the trust of corporate IT chiefs and guarantee that information conveyed could not fall into the hands of rival businesses.

It is understood that some development of Facebook at Work is taking place in London.

Facebook, which was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg while he was a Harvard student, has some 1.35bn monthly active users at at the end of September, compared with 1.19bn at the same point in 2013.

Some analysts believe that most people in developed countries who want a Facebook account already have one, prompting the company to explore other options for growth.

Facebook is reportedly in advanced talks with satellite operator Avanti to provide free broadband to large parts of Africa under its Internet.org initiative, whose aim is to “bring the Internet to the two thirds of the world’s population that doesn’t have it”. Some have suggested that the drive is as much about creating more potential Facebook users as getting people in the developing world online.

Google is also working on a project to provide internet access using high altitude balloons, while Facebook is also experimenting with solar-powered drones at would fly at 20,000 metres.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Chris Johnston, for The Guardian on Monday 17th November 2014 00.14 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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