Though not yet confirmed by the company itself, it has recently been widely reported that Facebook is getting ready to debut a new version of its ubiquitous social media platform called Facebook At Work.
Billed as a competitor to platforms like LinkedIn, it is expected to have all the familiarity and comfort of Facebook’s user interface. This project seems to be the next step in Facebook’s continued growth into the tech and business worlds.
So what do we know so far? Though no one from the general public has knowledge of the platform’s workings, it’s believed that employees at Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley have been using Facebook At Work at work. The platform has reportedly been designed to separate our business and personal lives online. In a world where new media seems to be merging the personal and impersonal as seamlessly as possible, it’s a fascinating strategy.
As one of my coworkers joked, “If I use Facebook At Work at work, when will I find time for the original Facebook?” The truth is not everyone gets paid to monitor and use social media. In fact, despite the continued emergence of media in every facet of our lives, many workplaces have blocked the site entirely. Facebook clearly sees an opportunity to eliminate the puppy dog selfies and political rants that have kept the original out of many workplaces and replace them with collaborative tools like coworker chats and shared documents.
Of course the OG Facebook we all know and love(?) isn’t going anywhere. The emergence of this new platform and the apparent coexistence of it and the original bring up a lot of questions for potential users. First in the minds of many these days is security. With their once again freshly updated privacy settings (hint: does not mean more privacy) and their firm place in the vanguard of targeted advertising, how many big companies will trust their employees to interact with company information through the Facebook medium?
Early opinions of analysts and CIOs are mixed and their questions are numerous. How many current LinkedIn users will switch platforms or simply add Facebook At Work when it comes out? How many of Facebook’s 1.23 billion users work in an industry where there is a real need for a service like this? What kinds of innovations will the platform provide over their established counterparts? These questions will not be answered until Facebook goes public with the announcement, and with the buzz starting to grow up around it, that’s expected to be soon.