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Application Security

Facebook Patents News Feeds

Social networking site claims exclusive method for organizing and posting members' news updates.

Facebook has received a patent for an online activity that's at the core of social networking—sharing news feeds with friends and colleagues.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded the patent, titled "Dynamically providing a news feed about users of a social network," on Tuesday, government records show.

"The method includes generating news items regarding activities associated with a user of a social network environment and attaching an informational link associated with at least one of the activities, to at least one of the news items," the patent description reads.

"As well as limiting access to the news items to a predetermined set of viewers and assigning an order to the news items," it continues.

Depending on how it's interpreted and enforced—either by the courts or Facebook itself—the patent's existence could mean trouble for other social networks, such as floundering MySpace, that also allow members to share news updates.

Among the patent's inventors, according to USPTO records, is none other than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Records also indicate Facebook originally applied for the patent, now officially called U.S. Patent No. 7,669,123, in August of 2006.

The patent covers 25 claims in total.

"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," the patent's summary reads, in part.

"A list of the subject user's activities within the social network may be drawn from various databases within the social network. The news feed is automatically generated based on the list of activities," the summary continues.

Facebook has yet to comment publicly on its plans for the patent, or whether it plans to challenge other social networks that let users post news updates.

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