Monday, May 14, 2012

Facebook Patents the News Feed

Monday, May 14, 2012
Just in case you were thinking of patenting a Facebook-ish newsfeed, you’re out of luck.  Facebook has been granted another patent related to the always popular News Feed.  Better luck next time! The title of the patent is, “Communicating a newsfeed of media content based on a member’s interactions in a social networking environment.”U.S. Patent No. 8,171,128 credits Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, as one of the inventors. 

Here’s a breakdown of what some of the patent covers:
  • Facebook keeps a database of all personal profiles
  • This database saves information such as the relationships between users 
  • The system creates “news stories” based on the actions of each user. 
  • The system watches for actions taken in response to various “news stories” whether an interaction with another user, like clicking a like button, and then feeds this story back into the pool available for news feeds. 
Facebook is working hard to lock down the functionality of their beloved News Feed.  For those of you not among the 850 million+ Facebook users, the News Feed allows users to see status messages, videos, shared articles, albums, among other actions, and is displayed prominently on the home page of each Facebook profile.  It was first launched in 2006 and has become an integral feature within Facebook. 

Why would Facebook want to patent the News Feed? In a nutshell, it allows Facebook to protect and enforce its Intellectual Property against competitors such as Google’s latest social network Google+, Twitter and/or Myspace.  

Nobody knows what Facebook will do when it comes to enforcing their patent rights.  Should they try and make their News Feed a Facebook-Only feature, the future of many other social networks is in question.

By: Samantha Collier