A picture shows the Facebook logo on a beach chair at the Facebook office in Berlin, Germany / REUTERS/Stefanie Loos

The new network looks a lot like Facebook – but is entirely separate from it, so your boss won't be able to see pictures from your nights out

Facebook has launched a special version of its social network meant to help people chat at work.

The app and website are based on the version of Facebook used by normal consumers. But it has been specially built for using in companies – with features that keep it separate from the normal version of the social network, for instance, and tools that ensure that data and information can stay secure.

Unlike the normal version of Facebook, companies will have to pay for each user they will have. It will cost between $1 and $3, depending on how many users the company has.

But otherwise the app looks familiar to any of the billions of people that use Facebook. It is built around familiar features like the news feed, groups and chats, and uses a version of the Facebook app that includes the same design.

Facebook said that Workplace – which was presumably know as Facebook at Work – was inspired by the internal version of the network that is used by Facebook itself. It has had that for many years, it said, and has been testing the beta version of it with other companies for the last 18 months or so.

The company said that the product has been built to help out people who don't work at traditional desks. People like retail workers and baristas will be able to use the system on their phone, the company said, because it has been built for mobile just like the Facebook app – the company said for instance that it is now being used by a shipping company that can connect with their crews using live video.

The app is meant in part to allow people within companies to chat to each other – replacing things like intranets, internal chat systems and emails. But it also lets people from different companies talk, too, by using shared groups between different companies that let them share information that needs to be but to keep other private information secret.

More than 1,000 companies have been using the early, private version of Workplace, Facebook said, and it is now on every continent apart from Antarctica. It will look to encourage more people to join the service by offering a special partner programme that will make it easier for companies to sign up.

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