Facebook Patents User News Feeds

Lora Bentley

InformationWeek reported Friday that Facebook has patented a method of "dynamically providing a news feed about users of a social network." The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded U.S. Patent No. 7,669,123 on Tuesday. Facebook first applied for it in 2006, the story says.


The patent includes 25 separate claims. According to the patent summary:

A user (the viewing user) of a social network may choose to view a news feed about another user (the subject user) in the social network...A list of the subject user's activities...may be drawn from various databases within the social network. The news feed is automatically generated based on the list of activities.

As writer Paul McDougall points out, the patent could pose problems for other social networks that compile user activity feeds. It depends on how Facebook enforces its rights and how the courts decide to interpret the patent.


But since I have privacy on the brain right now, the first thing I thought of was the trouble Google caused with Buzz. People were being followed who didn't want to be found and were automatically following people they really didn't want to know more about, and the users really had no say in the matter.


Upon a closer read of the InformationWeek piece, however, I found this little snippet in the patent summary:

as well as limiting access to the news items to a predetermined set of viewers...

Though it doesn't speak to all the issues that might come up, it's at least a hint that Facebook has considered some of them and doesn't plan to let just anyone and everyone on the network see these feeds.


I feel better for the moment, but it will be interesting to watch.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Feb 27, 2010 12:10 PM Jeff Yablon Jeff Yablon  says:

my two cents, here:


Jeff Yablon

President & CEO

Answer Guy and Virtual VIP Business Change Coaching and Virtual Assistant ServicesAnswer Guy and Virtual VIP on Twitter

Mar 1, 2010 4:09 AM narendra sisodiya narendra sisodiya  says: in response to Jeff Yablon

This is very bad news. Patent should not be granted on software OR new user interface. This is not a invention. Restricting other user to develop software is a very bad.

Jan 13, 2011 1:40 AM anonymous anonymous  says: in response to narendra sisodiya

It seems the controversies on patentability of software has taken a new dimension now. Regardless such controversies, the IP sector was active throughout last year. Have a look at the top 5 patent activities took place in India in 2010 @ http://www.sinapseblog.com/2011/01/top-5-patent-activities-in-india-2010.html


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