A patent granted to Facebook this week for the site’s “news feed” could have big implications for other social-networking companies, The Wall Street Journal's Digits blog reported Friday.
The patent, which was first reported on the All Facebook blog, is for “dynamically providing a news feed about a user of a social network.” Such feeds are crucial to many social-networking services -- MySpace, Google Reader, Twitter and LinkedIn come to mind. But it wasn’t immediately clear whether the patent would apply to all of these sites.
Facebook’s news feed has changed a number of times since the patent was filed in 2006, and some aspects of Facebook’s system might not be included. Nick O’Neill at All Facebook suggests that the patent does not cover the posting of status updates and that Twitter would thus not fall under its umbrella. Instead, he says, the patent covers a news feed based on “actions,” such as joining a group or adding a friend. But such a patent would still affect a number of sites. Much of the activity that occurs on LinkedIn, for example, is related to career actions, not status updates.
Facebook’s official statement didn’t shed light on which parts of the news feed might be included the patent - or whether Facebook has plans for enforcement.
“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. We’re humbled by the growth and adoption of News Feed over time and pleased with being awarded the patent,” the statement read.