Facebook granted patent on GPS based checkins #patent

Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch reports that Facebook has just been granted a wide-ranging patent on location-based social networking. He writes:

The patent appears to be pretty broad. It covers a “method of sharing locations of users participating in a social networking service at a geographic location.” The location is determined using a “GPS identifier” and it combines a status update with the member’s current location. It also seems to cover what are now known as checkins:

the status information manually provided by the first user on an input module of the mobile device; associating the location information with the status information of the first user in a database; and sending the status information and the location information of the first user to a second user for display.

In other words, Facebook might just have been granted a patent to Foursquare’s (and Gowalla’s) main feature.