Facebook was granted a patent today, which pertains to the layout of the famous News Feed.
Emil Protalinski at ZDNet points to the patent, called: "Communicating a newsfeed of media content based on a member's interactions in a social network environment." Here's the abstract:
A system and method provides dynamically selected media content to someone using an electronic device in a social network environment. Items of media content are selected for the user based on his or her relationships with one or more other users. The user’s relationships with other users are reflected in the selected media content and its format. An order is assigned to the items of media content, for example, based on their anticipated importance to the user, and the items of media content are displayed to the user in the assigned order. The user may change the order of the items of media content. The user’s interactions with media content available in the social network environment are monitored, and those interactions are used to select additional items of media content for the user.
This could have implications for Google, Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn, and any number of other social networks.This type of information display and user consumption is pretty much a staple of how social media works these days. Facebook has certainly been incredibly influential in that.
The company filed for the patent 6 years ago, and his isn't even the first time Facebook has been granted a patent related to the news feed. In 2010, Facebook was granted the patent for: "Generating a feed of stories personalized for members of a social network." Sounds pretty similar, eh?
Interestingly, Mashable reported in early 2010 that Facebook had been awarded a similar patent, with the abstract:
“A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment is described. 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 method further may further include displaying the news items in the assigned order to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewers and dynamically limiting the number of news items displayed.”
That report is linking to the same patent from today, with a different abstract.
It will be interesting to see if these patents lead to any major legal battles for Facebook. Protalinski suggests that Facebook may just use it to defend against other infringement accusations. Given Facebook's rich history of fighting of the other so called "founders," it's probably not a bad idea for Facebook to get such things secured.
I just hope things don't get absurd, the way patent disputes often can.
Facebook, as you may know, has been in a patent battle with Yahoo.