Facebook's Second Patent On News Feed OKed

Facebook has obtained approval of a second patent application related to the news feed, specifically for personalizing the content presented.

The patent okayed November 2 was submitted by Facebook’s intellectual property attorneys at Fenwick & West LLC over four years ago and lists half a dozen inventors: Andrew G. Bosworth, Chris Cox, Ruchi Sanghvi, Thyagarajapuram S. Ramakrishnan and Adam D’Angelo.

The news feed personalization that Facebook now has a patent on involves:

storing actions performed by one or more users of a social network; accessing relationship data for the one or more users, the relationship data specifying relationships between users in the social network; associating at least one action with at least one user to produce consolidated data, wherein the consolidated data for each of a plurality of actions identifies at least an action and a user of the social network who performed the action; identifying one or more elements associated with the consolidated data; aggregating consolidated data having one or more common elements to produce aggregated consolidated data, wherein the aggregated consolidated data identifies at least an action associated with a common element, a user of the social network who performed the action, and one or more other users of the social network who also performed an action associated with the common element; genhttp://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/wordpress/wp-admin/post-new.phperating a story personalized for the viewing user, wherein the story comprises at least a description of the action, the user who performed the action, and the one or more other users who also performed an action associated with the common element; and sending the story for display to the viewing user.

So let’s see how Facebook handles its ownership of this patent – presumably the social network will be more careful about which companies to share the technology with via an application programming interface. The technology promises to use information that’s posted publicly rather than things that non-technologically inclined people presume are invisible and thus deserving private status. Of course, public perceptions, not to mention the media, will put this to the test. It’s very possible that laypeople might jump to conclusions about how Facebook advertising infers potential interests, and another privacy brouhaha could ensue.