Facebook patents social-based search

Ronny Kerr · March 16, 2011 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/183d
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Patent filed in 2004 and awarded last month describes search based on social network factors

Look out rest-of-the-Internet, Facebook might now own a patent for social search, according to a patent first filed in October 2004 and awarded a month ago.
 
The abstract for the patent, titled “Visual tags for search results generated from social network information,” reads:
 
Search results, including sponsored links and algorithmic search results, are generated in response to a query, and are marked based on frequency of clicks on the search results by members of social network who are within a predetermined degree of separation from the member who submitted the query. The markers are visual tags and comprise either a text string or an image.
 
The first half of the sentence reads like any generic description of search, while the second half states that links in the search results are determined by how many social network users have interacted with those links. Furthermore, these results are specifically influenced by people closer in relationship to the user doing the searching.

 
It sounds convoluted, but this really shouldn’t be news to Facebook users. Here’s an example of how Facebook search already uses this technology:
 
Say you’re looking for your friend Christian. You go to the Facebook search bar, type in “chris,” and instantly you’ll see at least ten results, including your cousin Chris first, your three college friends named Christian, and, further down the list, a girl named Christine from your middle school. Instead of returning every single result in the social network that starts with the query “chris,” Facebook intelligently returns your friends first.
 
Even when you dig past your friends, you’ll find that Facebook first returns users who you have the most mutual friends with. This is the power of social search.
 
Patents and trademarks are most often used by organizations of Facebook’s stature in defense against litigation. Last fall, Facebook was awarded the trademark for the word “face” when used in connection with an online communication or social service.

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