Facebook Inc. has struck a partnership with the U.S. Labor Department to help the unemployed find jobs.
The deal could position the social-networking site with more than 800 million users to increasingly move into professional networking, a field now most closely identified with LinkedIn.
But at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, LinkedIn Corp. Chairman Reid Hoffman shrugged off the notion of Facebook as a competitive threat.
Asked whether LinkedIn would be held back by its demographic — the average user is in his or her early to mid 40s — Hoffman retorted: "You mean, like someone who could give you a job?"
His response elicited quite a few chuckles from the audience.
A year ago, LinkedIn Chief Executive Jeff Weiner said Facebook profiles might not be a good fit for professional networking.
"While many of us in college probably were at parties having a good time, doing things like keg stands, or being exposed to keg stands, I don't know that many of us would look forward to having a prospective employer have access to picture of those events," Weiner said during an onstage interview at the Web 2.0 Summit last year.
Or, as conference host John Battelle added helpfully, "bong hits."
In other words, LinkedIn's position is that people want to keep their personal and professional identities separate. If Facebook is a place for your friends, LinkedIn is a place for your professional connections.
But does that hold true now that Facebook has begun to make it easier for its users to share status updates, photos and other information just with the friends they designate? And what of Google Inc.'s ambitions for its social network Google+?
Facebook downplayed the significance of rolling out resources for job hunters.
"We are simply creating a central location for employment services for people who are on Facebook, because we want to connect job seekers to the resources available to them," spokesman Andrew Noyes said. "This is not a competitive service. It's a public service."