The next generation of work communication has been alive and well for the last half a decade as many companies have jumped into the fray to provide their own version of a solution for improved workplace communication. Reaching out to teams of coworkers to promote collaborative efforts is easier than ever before. In fact, chat communication has become the new standard in workplace communication.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, as the world’s workforce has largely moved to remote work from home, the need for workplace chat communication has grown exponentially. It allows teams to retain some feeling of comradery and a virtual comparability to a more open office environment.
Many services including (but not limited to) Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meets have provided their own version of chat solutions, and are highly utilized in a great majority of workplaces. Not standing on the sidelines, Facebook also threw its hat in the ring by offering up their answer to its competitors titled Facebook Workplace.
Facebook’s enterprise solution hopes to give the others some stiff competition, leveraging the name recognition of the Facebook brand, as well as the familiarity of the popular social media platform. This is a double-edged sword, however. Anyone making decisions for a large workplace environment will either know themselves or task a team of experts to communicate the knowledge of any choice of virtual communication tools. The recognition of the Facebook name, in that case, may not be to the company’s advantage.
Most wide enterprise workplaces deal with some level of confidential and private data. Whether that involves storing private health information (PHI) or financially sensitive data or just retaining listings of consumers addresses and retention of private demographic information, companies have a lot at stake when it comes to protecting the information they are trusted with.
Over the last decade, Facebook has garnered itself quite a filthy reputation when it comes to securing user privacy. The platform has not only been taken to court on a disturbing number of occasions for privacy violations, they have repeatedly failed to protect the data entrusted to them by their users. Some skeptics of the platform’s well-intentioned claims to protect their users would tell you that this may not have been accidental. On top of it all, they have been found guilty and been penalized with record fines.
Facebook has had a lot to answer for, so any major company’s CIO or IT management should, and likely will be given pause by the insistence that Facebook Workplace is not like your typical Facebook account. How much comfort can we really put into insistence and promises from a company whose reputation is essentially built up from empty promises to be better if we just give them ‘one more shot’….seemingly over and over…and over again?
Before we dig further into the questionable nature of Facebook Workplace let us level set and talk about what the platform actually offers. For a $3 a month charge, Facebook Workplace offers the familiarity with Facebook’s social platform minus the non-serious stuff (memes, games, etc).
Facebook insists that the Workplace platform is separate and uniquely distinct from its consumer platform. It also boasts a range of heavy-duty tools to assure a productive work environment for teams who utilize it. These include scrolling news feeds (a familiar trait of the social network), workplace chat capable of handling for up to 50 team members through text, audio, and video chats, as well as spaces dedicated for use by compiled teams. The platform also allows you to broadcast live from mobile devices and receive reactions and comments. You can additionally engage in collaborations on a multi-company level with suppliers or partners in text or video chats.
The data centers are set up in 12 Facebook-owned locations globally and Facebook actively monitors all of their owned or leased properties in observing appropriate, sufficient, and secure destruction of any media containing its collected data. The platform is generally well-rated and is considered a useful and effective communication medium.
Sounds very useful, and in some ways more robust than some of the other solutions out there. But all of the assurances under the sun cannot abdicate any Facebook platform from the fact that it is ultimately still Facebook. This is the same company involved in the gross data violations with Cambridge Analytica, allegations of not proofing their platform against the 2016 election meddling and suppression of fake news, the 2014 emotional manipulation study, and very questionable advertising practices.
Sure, Mark Zuckerberg can promise us the moon in terms of fixing all of the many Facebook flaws, but can we really trust company enterprise data to a company like that? When you hold the responsibility of a company and protect its data in your hands, can you put your faith in Facebook Workplace never crossing into the social media’s fault lines? Let’s remember that at the end of it all, Facebook is still a business, and if you are a business whose primary goal is not making money, you’re no business at all. So can we faithfully trust that with the treasure trove of data at their disposal Facebook execs will not take a chance on selling some of it for a hefty profit? If any penalty leveled at a company that it can incur it and keep on rolling forward is not enough to stop it, what exactly is it that will work?
CIOs and other company management know that there is a lot at stake when it comes to serving as guardians of sensitive and private data. This security will be a big factor in not only client and consumer trust and the brand’s reputation, but organizations are also required by law to observe certain strict security standards via government regulations when it comes to sharing files and data. Whether Facebook Workplace can handle the rigors of abiding by all of these regulations bears a big question mark.
Facebook can assure companies as much as it wants that it is leveraging top-notch security safeguards and respects all the privacy laws associated with safe collaborations and information file exchanges. Most companies are not naive enough to base that trust solely on the word of a company with Facebook’s reputation.
Facebook Workplace is an interesting idea. It’s different enough from its competitors to warrant consideration, but the concern about data privacy is one that the company’s careless and at times willfully ignorant of security reputation is not going to be easily shaken.
Businesses that engage in virtual user exchanges are highly vetted and a lot of thought is put into consideration. Facebook Workplace has garnered a respectably sized customer base pretty quickly, so they will have to prove their worth. Let us hope for the sake of everyone involved or affected by these partnerships, Workplace is worth it’s salt.
If you have not yet committed to a service and are considering Facebook Workspace, try to look past the appealing aspects of the platform to the trust you feel you can install in it. Is the risk of confiding your data in a company historically ill-reputed in information security matters worth the headaches you will face if that trust is violated? Perhaps, for everyone’s benefit, it’s best to steer clear.