On Tuesday, Facebook was awarded a patent for “dynamically providing a news feed about a user of a social network,” according to AllFacebook. The patent is #7,669,123 and is credited to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and a veritable who’s who of Facebookers.
The implications are pretty big, since this patent could mean Facebook could enforce their ownership and virtually shut down every other social network with a news feed. Which is all of them. So Buzz, FriendFeed, MySpace… All had better be lawyering up.
As Mashable’s Ben Parr points out, the patent is all about the “stories.” In other words, the patent isn’t about just displaying a list of status updates (ala Twitter), but is about displaying connected news updates in a story line, such as Google Buzz’s status and comment threads. Here’s the legaleze that this is summarized in within Facebook’s patent:
“A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment is described. 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, as well as limiting access to the news items to a predetermined set of viewers and assigning an order to the news items. The method further may further include displaying the news items in the assigned order to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewers and dynamically limiting the number of news items displayed.”
Of course, Business Insider says not to worry. It’s only money and, if Facebook enforces this patent, that’s what they’ll get: stacks of cash from their competition. After they’ve hired a team of lawyers to enforce the patent, of course.