Facebook news feed patent could hit rivals
LONDON - Facebook has been awarded a key patent relating to news feeds that could have serious implications for its social media rivals Google, MySpace and Twitter.
Facebook: awarded news feed patent
Patent #7,669,123, which is credited to eight Facebook employees past and present, including CEO Mark Zukerberg, sets out in detail how a news feed is constructed on a social networking website, and comes four years after it was submitted in 2006.
Titled "Dynamically providing a news feed about a user of a social network", it says the "method includes generating news items regarding activities associated with a user of a social network environment and attaching an informational link associated with at least one of the activities, to at least one of the news items, as well as limiting access to the news items to a predetermined set of viewers and assigning an order to the news items".
The patent now in place could allow Facebook to go take legal action against Google, MySpace and Twitter – which all use news feeds – to protect its patent, if they are in anyway infringing on its technology.
The worst-case scenario for rivals is that Facebook could force them to remove their news feeds or pay royalties for the use of the patented technology. It could do nothing at all with the patent. However, this appears unlikely.
According to AllFacebook, the patent surrounds implicit actions, which means the status updates that Twitter is based on are not included. "Instead, this is about stories about the actions of a user's friends. While still significant, the implications for competing social networks may be less substantial".
It could also impact how advertising is used in social media, as the patent includes numerous references to display and classified advertising and how it is used in news feeds.
The patent sates: "The format of the advertising may include, singularly or in combination, an audio or animation or other multimedia element played at various times, banner advertising, network links, email, images, text messages, video clips, audio clips, programs, applets, cookies, scripts, and the like."
According to a statement from Facebook on Mashable, the social networking site gives no indications of what it plans to do with the patent.
Facebook said: "The launch of News Feed in 2006 was a pivotal moment in Facebook's history and changed the way millions of people consumed and discovered information on the site. We're humbled by the growth and adoption of News Feed over time and pleased with being awarded the patent."
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