Can You Patent The Idea of Recommending Contacts in a Social Network?

Microsoft is trying to.  It’s up on PeerToPatent and you can comment on this patent application (and the USPTO will presumably listen to you) if you’d like to help keep the world free of really silly software patents.  Following is the abstract.

"A method and system for recommending potential contacts to a target user is provided. A recommendation system identifies users who are related to the target user through no more than a maximum degree of separation. The recommendation system identifies the users by starting with the contacts of the target user and identifying users who are contacts of the target user’s contacts, contacts of those contacts, and so on. The recommendation system then ranks the identified users, who are potential contacts for the target user, based on a likelihood that the target user will want to have a direct relationship with the identified users. The recommendation system then presents to the target user a ranking of the users who have not been filtered out."

Dear friends at Microsoft – please stop patenting stuff like this.  Just implement it in Outlook – or – even better – Exchange. 

I hate writing blog posts like this – it makes me tired.  If I’m the guys at Xobni, I’m working on (a) getting my patent filing updated and filed and (b) commenting on the PeerToPatent site about my prior art.  Actually, I’m probably just ignoring this and innovating like crazy.  But that’s just me.