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System and methods to support circles of friends in social networks

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000199132D
Publication Date: 2010-Aug-26
Document File: 3 page(s) / 27K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database


Disclosed is a system that acts as an extension to the capabilities of social and professional networking sites. The invention allows users to establish circles of friends based on certain preferences and have control over who is added to those circles.

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System and methods to support circles of friends in social networks

In everyday social networks, people have different circles of friends. People mix in different circles and share different things in those circles. Family members might share photos and calendar information. A wider family circle might share some of the same data but probably not all of it. Circles of friends and colleagues share different types of information. Depending on the members of the group, users share different types of information.

Online social networks do not facilitate such nuances in social interactions. Most simply indicate whether or not a person is a friend. This strict differentiation forces people to choose different tools for each aspect of their life. For example, people may use a social networking site for their friends and a professional networking site for business contacts. A user must spend time updating many different tools with their information.

The solution disclosed here allows a user to separate their friends into different circles. Some friends may fall into two or more circles. By having friends in different circles, a user shares different aspects of their life. Friends can see the user's other friends as well. The user can accept one person into multiple circles: a users accepts Friend A's offer to join his network and accepts him into their Close Friend circle, their work colleagues circle, and their inventors circle. Then, Friend A sees Friends B, C, and D because they are in one or all of those circles; however, he won't see Friend E because he is not in these circles. When the user accepts a person into a circle of friends, they will only see the friends are in that circle. For example, if a user works in the Services industry, they may decide to control their circles of friends in such a way that the employees of competing companies are not in the same circles. Or, the user may decide to create a circle of friends who are interested in online games, so they will be the only people viewing that content.

Current approaches to grouping associated people within a network include:

• LotusLive* does understand the idea of sharing artifacts based on groups. This is not the same as circles of friends because it doesn't change you're the user's context. When the user shares a file with a specific group in LotusLive it does not define their relationship with the user. That group does not see the user through that group alone. The disclosed invention would allow this; members only see comments made to that circle and the list of friends for that group, even though the user may have many more friends in different circles. Participants' view of their relationship with the user is defined by the circle in which they reside and in which the friends have placed the user.

• LotusLive also understands the concept of Communities, but this is not the same as circles of friends. Communities are an opt-in concept where a user can be invited...