Amazon has been awarded a patent for a “Social Networking System” from the US Patent Office. The system is described in the patent application as:

“A networked computer system provides various services for assisting users in locating, and establishing contact relationships with, other users. For example, in one embodiment, users can identify other users based on their affiliations with particular schools or other organizations. The system also provides a mechanism for a user to selectively establish contact relationships or connections with other users, and to grant permissions for such other users to view personal information of the user. The system may also include features for enabling users to identify contacts of their respective contacts. In addition, the system may automatically notify users of personal information updates made by their respective contacts.”

Friendster and Facebook also hold patents foocial networking, making the lines blurry on who actual owns the rights to what. Amazons patent application hints at the site having a more social presence. What do you think it might have in store?