A story captivated the Web yesterday that in 1845 President Lincoln had tried to patent an idea very similar to Facebook.
According to blogger Nate St. Pierre, the idea was rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
St. Pierre described a visit to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Ill., where he was shown a paper, the Springfield Gazette. Resembling a newspaper, it was instead "the visual appendix to a patent application" for a 19th-century social network, he said.
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"Lincoln was requesting a patent for The Gazette, a system to keep People aware of Others in the Town," St. Pierre playfully wrote.
According to the elaborate story, the paper's layout was as clear as modern-day Facebook, making Lincoln the father of social networks.
The Gazette would have featured a profile picture, personal information, copied and shared material, and few longer posts: that was Facebook - 167 years ago, St. Pierre concluded.
Even though the story was cleverly conceived - indeed more than 5,000 people shared it from St. Pierre's site - it wasn't that hard to see it was totally fabricated.