Many companies view Facebook with distrust -- or even attitudes approaching downright hostility, as evidenced by the Facebook bans imposed by Credit Suisse and other businesses.
It's hard to blame them, really, given reports of such boneheaded security gaffes as users blithely sharing personal data with "friends" they don't even know.
There are, of course, some notable exceptions. Witness Serena Software, which decided to replace its corporate intranet with a private Facebook group for its employees, bolstered with some custom-built Facebook applications and security tweaks.
Some companies are trying to find a middle ground between the two extremes by creating their own internal social networks. They hope to boost collaboration by offering employees a Facebook-like experience -- albeit one that remains firmly behind the firewall.
Problem is, despite companies' best efforts, many employees will likely continue to favor Facebook over any internal networks. Consider how another collaboration tool, instant messaging, has played out. According to a recent InformationWeek survey, 47 percent of respondents use consumer IM programs such as AIM, compared to 26 percent that use enterprise IM systems, 3 percent that use IM features of a PBX system and 24 percent that don't use IM.
Indeed, a bank featured in this Computerworld story found that its employees preferred Facebook to its internal network. It was able to offer them access to Facebook without compromising security with a new tool called WorkBook. According to the story, the server-based tool ensures that proprietary company data never leaves the corporate firewall.
Explains the VP of marketing and product strategy for WorkLight, the developer of the tool:
[WorkBook] allows the part of the information that resides on a Facebook page that is proprietary to never to go to the Facebook server. Users work within an application framework where the information is being served from the WorkBook server from behind the firewall. The users are authenticated through existing authentication and access control systems.