Facebook may have been late to the location wars with Facebook Places launching only a few months ago, but it’s been thinking about how to add location to social networking for years. Yesterday, it was granted a patent on “Systems and methods for automatically locating web-based social network members” which could have serious implications for other geo-mobile social networks like Foursquare and Gowalla.
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..