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Facebook service aimed at professionals to launch in a few months: source

People pose with laptops in front of projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken in Zenica
Facebook Inc’s professional version of its social network aimed at businesses will launch in the next few months, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

The world’s No.1 Internet social network with 1.35 billion monthly users has been quietly testing a version of its website geared toward workplace collaboration. The service, dubbed Facebook at Work, allows users to exchange messages and share documents using Facebook’s scrolling news feed and other familiar features from the consumer version of Facebook.

The professional version of Facebook, which could compete with services such as LinkedIn Corp, as well as Salesforce.com Inc and Microsoft Corp, would allow users to maintain special profiles that are distinct from their existing Facebook profiles, the person said. Work activities would not be shared on a user’s personal profile, and the baby photos, videos and general banter popular in the consumer version of Facebook would not encroach into the professional version.

A Facebook team in London is leading the effort and a small number of companies are currently running a pilot version of the service, the person said.

It is still unclear how Facebook plans to make money from the professional service. Facebook is not currently charging a subscription fee for the version being tested, according to a report in the Financial Times, which first reported news of the service. Facebook currently generates the bulk of its revenue from ads that appear on its existing service.

Shares of LinkedIn, a social network aimed at professional users, were down 5 percent at $222.12 in midday trading on Monday. Salesforce.com was down 1.74 percent at $62.80 and Microsoft was essentially flat at $49.54.

Facebook shares were down 1 percent at $74.13.

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