Nov 17, 2014 · 2 minutes

Facebook is working on a version of its site devoted workplace collaboration. According to the Financial Times, the site has been in development over the past year. (Facebook employees have used an internal version of the site for the last few years.)

The new site is expected to look much like the consumer-facing version of Facebook with some additional features, such as the ability to collaborate over documents. It's unclear when the site, called "Facebook at Work," will make its public debut.

I understand why Facebook would want to make a site like this. Enterprise social networks are hot right now -- Slack's billion-dollar valuation or Microsoft's $1.2 billion Yammer acquisition should make that clear -- and Facebook isn't willing to cede any market to any other company.

The site's appeal to businesses is less clear. Has anyone really been waiting for Facebook to ship a version of its site to adopt a social network for their workplace? And should businesses trust Facebook to host all their internal discussions, confidential documents, and communications?

Slack has become so popular at least partly because it doesn't compete with most of its users. Most tech companies aren't developing a workplace-specific social network, so they can treat Slack as an interesting product without worrying about feeding information to a competitor.

Facebook doesn't have that luxury. It competes with countless companies in several markets, from consumer services to infrastructure technologies and beyond. A tech company using Facebook at Work would be ike Pando relying on a product developed by TechCrunch.

Besides, there are two possibilities for Facebook at Work: either it really is just Facebook for the workplace, which probably won't be enough to convince businesses using Slack, Yammer, and other products to make the switch, or it will have a design meant to make it more competitive.

Neither option is particularly compelling. Facebook is barely tolerable as a consumer service -- expecting businesses to want to use something with an algorithmic News Feed, private chats, and the like seems misguided. And we all know how well Facebook copies other companies.

So I'd expect to see a lot of reports on Facebook at Work before its launch, a whole lot of hand-wringing over what the service might mean for established companies when it finally debuts, and then a whole bunch of crickets when the service tanks like Poke, Slingshot, and Facebook's other copycats. Or I'll be proven wrong and the service will kill Slack, Yammer, and LinkedIn.

Guess which option my money's on.