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Facebook's Patent Panting

Hold the social media phone! Facebook is following in the patent-happy footsteps of Friendster. In a development that could seriously disrupt the strategies of both leading and emerging social platforms, Facebook has been granted a patent on "displaying a news feed in a social network environment," i.e., its Newsfeed.

"This is a huge deal for a number of reasons, most significantly that it grants Facebook the opportunity to pursue other social networks which are infringing on their patent," writes AllFacebook, which broke the news, and calls the patent potentially one of the most significant in a decade.

Says ReadWriteWeb: "If all algorithmic ranking and delivery of social activity updates to social network users falls under this patent ... then there's going to be a whole lot of trouble for sites all over the web."

The patent ostensibly covers implicit user activity updates, and the dynamic ranking of those items when delivered in the context of a social network.

"In contemporary Facebook terms, it would probably cover the News Feed but not the status messages in the Live Feed," ReadWriteWeb adds. In other words, "It would probably not impact what Twitter is doing today," while the fates of LinkedIn, Ning, and other industry players remain uncertain.

Still, "It's not clear that there aren't precedents for the technology," GigaOm points out. "For instance, the social network Multiply.com had a similar interface for keeping track of friends' actions before Facebook launched its own."

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Furthermore, writes DigitalBeat, "From a strategic perspective, Facebook would do better financially by prioritizing development on its advertising, metrics and payments offerings, than by pursuing a more litigious strategy of suing other companies."

Fast Company puts it another way: "With the web of complex questions this patent raises it is clear that

Read the whole story at All Facebook et al. »

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