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Facebooking at work? Surprisingly, that may soon become the norm.

According to a recent Yahoo article, Facebook is currently developing what is being dubbed as “Facebook at Work”, a platform that will allow for sharing and connectivity in corporations. The concept will likely be very similar to the current Facebook layout, equipped with a newsfeed, groups, and chat. With this, Facebook aims to compete with similar platforms offered by Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce.com.

In order to do this, the single most important feature of Facebook at Work will be its complete separation from users’ personal Facebook accounts, a major potential concern of its future users. People simply do not want their professional and personal lives blending together online, and Facebook has clearly recognized this fact. However, some people (including myself) still will hold a considerable amount of doubt and caution regarding that matter, since recent events in the technological world have proved that it only takes one hack to suddenly expose personal accounts to professional accounts, a risk that many people cannot afford to take.

Additionally, the question of profitability also remains, and hence, attention immediately turns to the use of ads. While Facebook’s position on including ads on Facebook at Work is still unclear, the social media giant will have to thoroughly consider consequences of advertisements. As a platform that will still have to build a lot of credibility, since Facebook is essentially entering a new field, it cannot contain disadvantages that its competitors do not have. If I were an employer, I, for one, would hesitate to implement a collaboration platform that is riddled with ads, because quite simply, I cannot afford to have my employees distracted by irrelevant marketing.

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Image courtesy of Master OSM 2011.

Another hurdle that Facebook at Work will have to overcome will be people’s reluctance to share information with Facebook. Increasingly, the general public is becoming more aware and cautious of providing too much information to Facebook (and other large companies, for that matter), which they fear will later use without consent. Quite possibly, many corporations will share this concern as well, not wanting to share sensitive and integral information that would leave them vulnerable were it to be exploited by Facebook.

Despite these concerns, however, I still believe that Facebook at Work has great potential. As Jacob Morgan mentions in his article, Facebook already has a developed reputation and a robust user base, just a fraction of which could make it one of the leading players in this new industry. Simple, direct communication will allow Facebook to help people overcome the fear of potentially blending together personal and professional accounts. As long as Facebook avoids using advertisements in the platform, I also think that the convenience of having both personal and professional accounts connected to one network will slowly result in corporations adopting Facebook at Work.

Featured image courtesy of Sean MacEntee.

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