Monday, March 1, 2010

Facebook Patent Unleashed!

Facebook obtains potentially powerful patent on Newsfeed technology

In 2006, Facebook filed a patent application on its much-imitated Newsfeed technology. Last week the patent was granted. Facebook has yet to announce any plans for legal action, but Web sites all over must be feeling more than a little apprehensive. After all, Twitter is essentially one big news feed. Google, Myspace and Flickr all use a similar technology.

The USPTO granted coverage to “the generation of activity elements associated with a user through a social network, tethering an information link associated with at least one these activities, limiting access to material in question to a predetermined list of users and assigning an order of publication for these different elements.”

Before Facebook sues anyone for patent infringement, it must consider the potential fallout from such a drastic move. In 2007, when Facebook tried out its first News Feed technology, called Beacon, users felt violated and many deleted their accounts. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, issued a public apology and rescinded the service (although it slowly crept back in without any large-scale reactions). Facebook better use its new weapon of mass destruction tactfully. But it probably will use it. Stay tuned…