Yahoo Has Social Networking Patent Published

If you have an interest in social networking, search and IR, you might want to take a look at a patent application from Yahoo that was published (not awarded) by the USPTO last week. It deals with how a user views info in a social network setting. After only a quick read it looks similar to what Yahoo is developing with their Yahoo 360 platform.

Again, this is just a patent application. I do my best to offer a brief (very brief look) at the differences between a published patent app and an awarded patent in this post (you'll also find more recent Yahoo patent apps listed).

Title: Method and system for customizing views of information associated with a social network user
Filed: April 26, 2004

Abstract: A method, apparatus, and system are directed towards managing a view of a social network user's personal information based, in part, on user-defined criteria. The user-defined criteria may be applied towards a user's relationship with each prospective viewer. The user-defined criteria may include degrees of separation between members of the social network, a relationship to the prospective viewer, as well as criteria based, in part, on activities, such as dating, employment, hobbies, and the like. The user-defined criteria may also be based on a group membership, a strength of a relationship, and the like. Such user-defined relationship criteria may then be mapped against various categories of information associated with social network user to provide customized views of the social network user.

Background of Invention: Social networking includes a concept that an individual's online personal network of friends, family colleagues, coworkers, and the subsequent connections within those networks, can be utilized to find more relevant connections for dating, job networking, service referrals, activity partners, and the like. Because individuals are more likely to trust and value the opinions from people they know than from complete strangers, social networking is typically directed towards mining these network relationships in a way that is often more difficult to do offline.

Thus, there has been a flurry of companies launching services that help people to build and mine their personal networks. However, these efforts have been predominately directed towards dating and job opportunities. Many of these companies are struggling with developing additional services that will build customer loyalty. Without the ability to extend the value of the existing networks, social networking loses its appeal. Thus, there is a need in the industry for better mechanisms to manage, mine, and cultivate personal networks. Therefore, it is with respect to these considerations and others that the present invention has been made.