Feeds

Facebook's Zuckerberg awarded privacy patent

No one can summarize your settings like he can

Security for virtualized datacentres

Mark Zuckerberg cares about your Facebook privacy settings. He cares about them so much, in fact, that he's patented a method of finding out what they are.

The patent, number 8,225,376, was filed six years ago but only approved last week, and is attributed to Zuckerberg and former Facebook chief privacy officer Chris Kelly.

Broadly, it describes a system for dynamically generating a summary of privacy preferences for a social network user. According to the patent application's summary:

The present invention provides a system and method for dynamically generating a privacy summary. A profile for a user is generated. One or more privacy setting selections are received from the user associated with the profile. The profile associated with the user is updated to incorporate the one or more privacy setting selections. A privacy summary is then generated for the profile based on the one or more privacy setting selections.

The application then goes on to describe, in similarly stultifying language, how the system goes about summarizing the various, overlapping privacy preferences that social network users might assign to their posts, photos, and other data.

For example, if a user says a photo should be visible in the geographic region of San Francisco, to members of a certain group the user belongs to, and to "friends of friends," the system would add up all of these options and generate a summary explaining what it all means.

Rocket science it's not. But to be fair, it was the first patent Zuckerberg ever applied for, and as ReadWriteWeb reports, the USPTO didn't approve it without some argument.

The patent was rejected for obviousness in 2009 and then again 2011, and was only finally accepted after Zuck agreed to revise three of its claims. Even in its final form, it's arguably still very broad.

A quick search of the US patent database shows ten other patents that list Zuckerberg as an inventor, and a total of 39 patents assigned to Facebook.

Doubtless, the social network would like more, after having spent much of the year embroiled in a patent squabble with Yahoo! that was only resolved earlier this month.

In March, Facebook reportedly acquired 750 patents in a deal with IBM.

Meanwhile, Facebook's track record for summarizing its users' privacy preferences has been less than stellar. In November, it settled with the US Federal Trade Commission over charges that its privacy settings were "deceptive" and that users' choices would be "ineffective" in certain circumstances.

As part of that settlement, Facebook must submit to an independent privacy audit every two years for the next 20 years. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
Business is back, baby! Hasta la VISTA, Win 8... Oh, yeah, Windows 9
Forget touchscreen millennials, Microsoft goes for mouse crowd
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
'Google is NOT the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim'
Plus: 'Pretty sure iOS 8.0.2 will just turn the iPhone into a fax machine'
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.