Popular social networking site Facebook has received a wide ranging patent for displaying news feeds from social networks.

Facebook initially filed the patent in August 2006 and got approved by the US Patent Office earlier this week. The patent is for the sites news feed being generated from user interactions within the social network.

A user (the viewing user) of a social network may choose to view a news feed about another user (the subject user) in the social network, according to All Facebook, which first noticed the patent.

A list of the subject user's activities within the social network may be drawn from various databases within the social network. The news feed is automatically generated based on the list of activities.

What does this mean for other social networks though?

However, the feature was also included in various other social networking services but under different names. Now that Facebook has patented the technology, it may ask them to pay a certain amount or simply debar them from using this technology.

This could pose problems with Twitter, as AllFacebook points out, as it is effectively one giant news feed. to the extent that it clearly has influenced some of the changes that Facebook made to its own feed technology.

As of now, Facebook has not released any information on how it plans to use the patent. The company founder, Mark Zuckerberg only said in a statement that they are humbled by the growth and adoption of News Feed over time and pleased with being awarded the patent.

Google’s Chris Messina, who is in the Activity Streams standards organization that includes Facebook, told ReadWriteWeb: “I hope that this is defensive and Facebook doesn’t intent to enforce this patent. … This is just one more example of how the patent system isn’t architected to support the right kind of innovation.”

The patent listed the names of Zuckerburg along with other Facebook top executives including Ruchi Sanghvi, Andrew Bosworth, Chris Cox, Aaron Sittig, Chris Hughes, Katie Geminder, and Dan Corson, as the inventors of the patented technology.