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CERN ends trial of Facebook Workplace

Workplace account feature changes mean an end to CERN’s trial of the platform


Workplace Trial end

Changes to the status of CERN’s Workplace account prevent the Organization from continuing on the platform (Image: Facebook Workplace)

New changes to the status of CERN’s Workplace account prevent the Organization from continuing on the platform. CERN’s presence on Workplace will end on 31 January 2020.

In October 2016, Facebook made Workplace available to any company or organisation. In particular, for CERN, they made the enticing offer of waiving the fees and so we took the opportunity to test the platform. Representatives from HR, IT and IR worked together to carry out dedicated trials within their department/sector to gather feedback. The feedback was not just technical, and also conveyed reluctance to engage with the platform. To date, about 1000 members of the CERN community have created a Workplace account and there are roughly 150 active users of the platform per week.

In July 2019, Workplace announced new account plans and, in October, announced that there were three million paid users. CERN was then given a choice of either paying to continue with the initially free set-up or downgrading to a free version that would remove CERN single sign-on access and other enterprise provisioning features. Paying for such features, for a tool that was not part of our core offering for the CERN community and where the existing level of control of our data did not correspond to CERN's needs, was not suitable. Therefore, we will end the trial of this platform.

To replace key Workplace functionalities, a suite of alternative solutions are available to the CERN community. Mattermost instant messaging and real-time communications can already be used to replace Workplace private or public groups. Discourse can also help exchange information that can be referenced in the future, and is already used by many, including the CERN market and the ROOT community, as a questions and answers platform. The Workplace automated email alerts for home.cern content will soon be replaced with a push-notification system from IT and a new newsletter tool from IR, both foreseen for 2020.

The IT department has followed up with Facebook to disable functionality on CERN Workplace and all our data was deleted by 31 January. 

Note: This article was edited on 7 February 2020, including to clarify technical aspects related to administrative rights.