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Workplace, Facebook’s Slack rival, partners with cloud, news services

An update to the collaboration software, unveiled at F8, is letting in more third parties at a time when Facebook is under scrutiny for data misuse. Workplace promises security on its platform.

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Workplace, Facebook's Slack competitor, announced partnerships with companies including Microsoft and SurveryMonkey.

Facebook

Facebook wants to make Workplace -- a version of the social network designed specifically for the, well, workplace -- more of a one-stop shop for employees.

On Tuesday, the company announced that Workplace will now let other services create integrations for Workplace. What that means is that businesses using the paid version of Workplace will be able to tap into things like Microsoft Sharepoint collaboration software, Atlassian and SurveyMonkey. The free version also has integrations with cloud services like Dropbox and Box. There are more than 50 new integrations in all, Facebook said.

Workplace also announced partnerships with a handful of news outlets, including Bloomberg, Yahoo Finance and Reuters, so its users can subscribe to feeds from those sites. The idea is for employees to be keep up to date with industry news from within Workplace.

The social network made the announcement at F8, Facebook's annual developer conference, in San Jose, California.

Workplace, launched in 2016, is meant for teams to use as an online office, with familiar Facebook fare like a news feed or groups. But it isn't linked to your personal account. The paid version costs $3 per user. Companies using the platform include Walmart, Starbucks and Domino's Pizza.

The war over collaborative software supremacy has become a surprisingly heated in Silicon Valley. Slack, launched in 2013 by Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield, is a darling in tech and media offices. Last year, Microsoft launched its own version of workplace software worldwide, called Microsoft Teams.

Facebook's news comes as it's still under scrutiny over a scandal last month involving Cambridge Analytica. The digital consultancy accessed personal data on up to 87 million Facebook users without their permission. The controversy has raised questions about Facebook's handling of personal data and whether the world's largest social network and CEO Mark Zuckerberg can be trusted with such precious information.

Simon Cross, a product manager for Workplace, says the treatment of data at Workplace is different from the rest of Facebook. "We're not launching an open platform," Cross said in an interview last week. "It's really important to us the integrations we offer our partners meet a high bar."

Every integration first has to be approved by Workplace, he said. That includes two review processes: a product review by the Workplace team, then an independent security audit performed by an outside company. Cross wouldn't say which companies do the audits. "Protecting our customers' information is at the heart of everything we do."  

Facebook's F8 Developer Conference: Follow CNET's coverage.

Cambridge Analytica: Everything you need to know about Facebook's data mining scandal.