Facebook created quite a stir yesterday when it emerged that the company has a patent on location-based social networking, a very competitive and crowded field Facebook has just entered.What’s especially strange about this is that Facebook didn’t file for this patent until 2007, when location networks had already been operating for years.
The first few claims should sound pretty familiar to anyone who read Facebook’s patent yesterday:
1. A computer-implemented method, comprising: receiving, at a computer, a location of a first user who is associated with a first mobile device;
receiving a location of a second user who is associated with a second mobile device, and who is identified as a friend of the first user;
sending a first message to the first mobile device based on the proximity of the first user to the second user, wherein the first message identifies the location of the second user;
and sending a second message to the second mobile device based on the proximity of the second user to the first user, wherein the second message identifies the location of the first user.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the user locations are determined by converting a location name to a set of corresponding location coordinates.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein the location coordinates comprise GPS coordinates.
4. The method of claim 2, wherein the location name comprises a venue name.
5. The method of claim 4, further comprising parsing the venue name from an electronic message.
6. The method of claim 5, further comprising parsing the electronic message into components from a MIME header.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein the message is sent over a text messaging system.
8. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
receiving from a third mobile device a location of a third user who is identified as a friend of the first user, determining that the first user is identified as a friend of the second user and the third user; and
sending messages to the second and third mobile devices identifying the location of the first user.