Apple patents reliable social networking system that tracks 'stalkers' and 'spammers'

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple a patent for a social networking system that institutes a number of database-level features to ensure reliable "friend states," or how users interact with each other.

Friend Service
Source: USPTO


Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,396,932 for "Apparatus and method for efficiently managing data in a social networking service" should not be confused with a full-fledged social network, instead being a method of managing data within a so-called "friend service."

As noted in the invention's summary, some embodiments store keys or value data to "provide an efficient and highly-scalable friend service database," with systems that can ensure consistency between friend records.

In an example of the system's architecture, there are three main databases that help keep user data consistent: a friend database for users within the network, a handle database for out-of-network users, and a write-ahead log database for detecting and rectifying conflicts.

In one embodiment, "in-network" users are identified by a unique destination signaling identifier (DSID) or handle. It should be noted that handles can identify out-of-network users, or those who are not yet part of the friend service, as well as existing users who have not yet associated their handle with their account.

The main goal of any social network is connecting to other users. Apple's invention notes that the initial relationship state between two users as "none," meaning the two account holders have not yet interacted or sent friend requests to one another. In some embodiments, the "none" state is set as the default. A second "handshake" state is described when one of the users initiates contact, or sends a friend request, while a final "friend state" is achieved when the recipient accepts the request.

Relationship
Flowchart of "relationship" updating.


The invention also describes a stalker count and a spammer count, which are attached to a user's DSID. Each time a user sends a request, their spammer count value is upped by 1 until a predefined threshold is reached. The system can cut off further requests if the frequency of requests passes this threshold. As for the stalker count, a DSID is assigned a "+1" value each time a friend request is denied by a second user. If the sender of the request reaches a predefined stalker count threshold, additional attempts will be ignored. In addition, an ignore flag can be set from the recipient wherein further requests are blocked by the system.

To maintain consistency over the databases, a write-ahead log generator is employed to track "transactions" like accepting a friend request, removing a friend or merging two handles on an account, among others user actions. For example, a key is generated for a given transaction that requires multiple updates to a certain user's friend state records. Once the updates are finished, the entry associated with the log key is deleted. When the system detects log keys that have not been erased over a given amount of time, it can determine that there is an inconsistency in the database. In this scenario, a log reaper is used to step through the write-ahead log database and rectify any inconsistencies.

Logging
Flowchart of write-ahead log entry controls.


Other embodiments describe friend request fetching and rejecting, obtaining a list of friends, de-friending and sending friend requests, along with other basic networking tools.

The system can be implemented in an API which can then be integrated into a variety of mobile apps, while further embodiments allow for internet connectivity.

Apple's most recent attempt at social networking, the music-centric Ping first introduced in 2010, fell flat after the service failed to gain traction. It is unknown if the functions described in Tuesday's patent were applied to the failed network.

The '932 patent was first filed with the USPTO in 2010 and credits Amol Pattekar, Jeremy Matthew Werner, Patrick Gates, Andrew H. Vyrros and Richard Wagner as its inventors.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    They're inching closer to the feature I really want: Find My Enemies.
  • Reply 2 of 8
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 2,138member
    Seriously? I'm no Facebook fan, but wouldn't all this be covered already by some kind of patents they hold? Or prior work as Facebook itself? Or, you know, lots of other stuff all over the Internet?

    I know things seem obvious after the fact, but that's not my point. My point is that this isn't invention. This is an example of exactly what's wrong with the USPTO and with patenting software. When is this going to stop? When no one can do anything at all without running afoul of patent trolling? That's already a problem! http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/07/26/138576167/when-patents-attack
  • Reply 3 of 8
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    nagromme wrote: »
    They're inching closer to the feature I really want: Find My Enemies.

    Then an exploding iPhone would really come in handy.
  • Reply 4 of 8
    jason98jason98 Posts: 763member
    nagromme wrote: »
    They're inching closer to the feature I really want: Find My Enemies.

    Apple will anounce the Anti-social Network along with iOS 7 and Samsung will quickly copy the feature in galaxy s5.
  • Reply 5 of 8
    fsad32fsad32 Posts: 20member
    Thanks god it is ILLEGAL to patent algorytms and user interfaces OUTSIDE USA in many countries (for example in Russia).
    So, good luck Apple, but your patents property is void (not valid) outside the borders of stupidiest USPTO territory.
  • Reply 6 of 8
    fsad32fsad32 Posts: 20member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dysamoria View Post



    Seriously? I'm no Facebook fan, but wouldn't all this be covered already by some kind of patents they hold? Or prior work as Facebook itself? Or, you know, lots of other stuff all over the Internet?



    I know things seem obvious after the fact, but that's not my point. My point is that this isn't invention. This is an example of exactly what's wrong with the USPTO and with patenting software. When is this going to stop? When no one can do anything at all without running afoul of patent trolling? That's already a problem! http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/07/26/138576167/when-patents-attack



    This is only valid in USA but nowhere else. Unfortunately that's one of biggest flaw of US patenting system which stop many business people to start any new product in USA - patent trolls in USA are holding today patents for everything including not existed imaginable products (like flying car) and the fact is that american juridicial system is so complicated and lawyers so expensive - paying some thousands of $$$ to patent troll for a licence of false patent will be cheaper than making patent false though court. (the materials about that in many newspapers)

  • Reply 7 of 8


    I don't know about this. This is a simple software code flowchart and checking system. How can software be patented like this? Are developers not going to be able to use a method of coding in the future because someone has patented that method of coding?

  • Reply 8 of 8
    fsad32fsad32 Posts: 20member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GadgetCanada View Post


    I don't know about this. This is a simple software code flowchart and checking system. (1)How can software be patented like this? (2)Are developers not going to be able to use a method of coding in the future because someone has patented that method of coding?



    1) That's the USA. One of the example of ancient stupidity of US Patenting System is how the famous inventor Edison was trying to catch Hollywood movie studios and arrest them with court order because they are using his invention of cinema projectors and his 35-mm film without paying him (considering that Edison was only one of the many inventors of the same invention in that timeframe). That's why the Hollywood was founded near the mexican border - this border cross was the only safe line to the founders of many movie studios to run away from Edison and court marshals.


     


    2) You will need to read this: A patent troll is targeting my transit app (author from Toronto but his app was blocked by US patent troll - because iTunes is in the USA and Apple is US-company - and this is hurting many developers - by their local laws in other countries such things are illegal and will be impossible, but in USA it's OK)


    Summary from the page: Obviously, you should talk to a lawyer, but here's my free internet advice ... These are normally sent out in bulk by patent trolls to any and all .... Even winning could be more expensive than just paying the fee and getting on with your life. .... at once and hope a percent of them cave without the need for court.


     


    Obama administration is offering only one solution to awful USPTO problems - they wanna make that patent trolls will pay all court expenses if they lose in the case - so that's not really a solution - they do not wanna to inspect all current patents database - government just wants to push everyone into courts with expensive lawyers and to feed this awful bureaucracy system. As the bonus - after the years of court hearings/expertise, if you win - you will receive back your expenses, maybe, if the troll company by that time won't be bankrupt (mostly all trolls is the investment companies).

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