Facebook patents social networking update feeds

Feb 26, 2010
This picture taken on January 2010 in Paris shows the internet homepage of the community website facebook. Facebook has won a US patent on news feeds behind the kinds of real-time updates that make social-networking websites a hit with users.

Facebook has won a US patent on news feeds behind the kinds of real-time updates that make social-networking websites a hit with users.

"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," Facebook said Friday in an email response to an AFP inquiry.

"We're humbled by the growth and adoption of News Feed over time and pleased with being awarded the patent."

Facebook declined further comment, suggesting AFP contact a lawyer for perspective on the significance of the patent.

The patent summarizes the "invention" as "a method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment."

The method was described in US Patent and Trade Office paperwork as including comments and links posted by social network users for sharing with other members of the online community.

That broad concept strikes at the core of Twitter, which lets people share thoughts or observations at any moment of the day using text messages of 140 characters or less.

Twitter analytics team member Kevin Weil said on Monday that users of the service are creating 50 million of messages per day.

Word of the patent awarded to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg "et al" this week sparked concern among fans of microblogging service Twitter and other social networking services that thrive on real-time News Feed style updates.

"This is stupid!!!" Twitter user A_Kim83 commented in a growing mountain of tweets on the topic Friday. "Screw you Facebook if you start strong arming other sites."

The patent gives Facebook a potential weapon to fend off competitors on an Internet battlefield where social networking is a hot trend, according to analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley.

"It is not just Facebook taking on Twitter," Enderle said. "It is taking on MySpace or any other social networking service. You might even argue it is a defensive move against Google."

Early this month the Internet search powerhouse added a Buzz social networking feature to its widely-used free email service Gmail.

Google Buzz allows Gmail users to get updates about what friends are doing online and offers ways to share video, photos and other digitized snippets in a challenge to social networking stars Facebook and Twitter.

While Buzz was bashed for treading on people's privacy by automatically generating social networks for users based on their Gmail contacts, the feature is being honed and may be seen as a threat by Facebook.

"Buzz is a train wreck, but it was enough to scare a bunch of these guys half to death because it showed Google getting into their space," Enderle said.

"Facebook is probably more concerned about Google than Twitter and MySpace combined and squared. Any time a 600 pound gorilla enters your room you are pulling out your heavy weapons."

Patent in hand, Facebook is in a position to deny others permission to use its invention or license the technology, according to the analyst.

"It is transformational for Facebook and indicates that they have a big desire to own their customers," Enderle said.

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User comments : 7

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NotAsleep
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 26, 2010
"This is stupid!!!" Twitter user A_Kim83 commented in a growing mountain of tweets on the topic Friday. "Screw you Facebook if you start strong arming other sites."


EXACTLY why I don't use Twitter, I couldn't handle all the extra punctuation.

50 Million messages per day... imagine how much energy would be saved if all this useless information went away
convolutedmind
5 / 5 (2) Feb 26, 2010
This patent is absurd. How can the idea of a social feed be patented, that's just ridiculous.
vantomic
5 / 5 (2) Feb 26, 2010
This is one small example of a huge problem with modern day software and some hardware patents. How can we give exclusive control over something as absurd as this and prove that facebook was truly the inventor. This is why the little guy can never compete, we don't have a team of lawyers to supplement the hardware/software guys. I could have used this idea, which to me parallels knowing to tie your shoe before running, and they can sweep in and patent it then sue me. We are left with our only option, work for these guys or sell our designs and let them flourish. I prefer option C...neither and head over to ebay and sell my product until they get pissed and threaten me with lawyers even though I have never copied someones work in my life.
x646d63
not rated yet Feb 26, 2010
It started with One Click, but will end shortly when the Supreme Court declares all business method patents unenforceable.
addidis
5 / 5 (3) Feb 26, 2010
I for one have boycotted Facebook over this. Put up a goodbye note and in a week will cancel the account, never to give it a second thought.
I also agree with Vantomic , I am a self taught Engineer / developer and am currently sitting on a finished design because I cant afford the 7500 $ of licenses to have the "right" to design electronics that allow use of a micro SD card. You would think they would be ecstatic to see independent firms promoting the use of their product. It would cost me 45,000 to manufacturer enough to make back the 7500 worth of licenses (good for one year) which I would have to guarantee I could sell or be homeless.
sams
5 / 5 (3) Feb 26, 2010
Patents like this are more than just stupid - they are holding back human development.
jac7911
5 / 5 (1) Mar 01, 2010
Agree with you sams. Have a look at all the Microsoft patents. It is getting ridiculous.