I retired in April 2013 after 25 years as a librarian at the British Library specialising in inventions. This included running numerous workshops; writing books on inventions and a work blog; carrying out searches for clients; and one-to-one meetings with inventors. [more]

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8 February 2014

Facebook and social networking inventions

Facebook has published numerous software patent specifications about social networking. Here are a few that show the way the company's mind works.

At the time of writing, there are 108 US patent applications published in the name of Facebook that mention "social network[ing, etc.]" in the title or summary. The software code is not required, only algorithms or other information explaining how the software works. This means that the novice has some chance of understanding the point behind it.

Some may sound a bit spooky, or intrusive. Here are a few. Some have already been published as B, granted patents, in which case I link to that B rather than the A document. Grant does not necessarily mean that the invention has been incorporated into the way Facebook works.

Promoting participation of low-activity users in social networking system

Methods and systems for tracking of user interactions with content in social networks

Crowdsourced advertisements sponsored by advertisers in a social networking environment

Providing relevant notifications based on common interests between friends in a social networking system

Suggesting connections to a user based on an expected value of the suggestion to the social networking system

Inferring user profile attributes from social information (as illustrated below)



Tracking effects of an ad impression on other activity in a social networking system

Predicting user responses to invitations in a social networking system based on keywords in user profiles

Leveraging information in a social network for inferential targeting of advertisements (as illustrated below)



I haven't used Facebook since, when trying to set up an account in order to see pictures that were only visible to account holders, it immediately published my date of birth on the Web even though I hadn't specifically authorised that to happen. I'm not keen to encourage identity theft, and also felt it was very intrusive. I closed the account right away. It is, of course, the kind of data they use to infer information about people to set up possible connections, to target advertisements and so on. Knowing your income would be useful, for example...

What about Inferring household income for users of a social networking system, anyone ?

1 comment:

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