Facebook has won a patent on displaying a news feed of users’ actions in a social network, raising a ruckus in the blogosphere over the possibility that the world’s largest social network could keep competitors at bay through patent lawsuits.
Facebook applied for the patent in 2006, and it was published on Tuesday. It covers a system of watching and publishing to other what user does on the site — e.g. publishing “Jesse joined the group Friends of the Zoo,” “Tommy became friends with Sammy,” “Suzy sent a virtual Kamikaze shot to Megan.” It does not cover publishing a stream of status updates ala Flickr, but arguably could cover the automated publishing of updates as Google’s new social network publishing tool Buzz does. That lets you feed other services into Buzz, so that when a user uploads photos to their Flickr account, they automatically get published through the Buzz Feed.
After the patent was first publicized by All Facebook, the net’s tech bloggers (and their commenters) began speculating whether Facebook would use the patent to strong-arm potential rivals.
Facebook is declining to address that speculation, but says that the feature is one that users love.