There are some areas where Apple (AAPL) thrives and some areas where it continues to struggle, and social networks definitely fall into the latter category. Apple’s failed Ping service is the biggest piece of evidence that the company isn’t quite sure what users want from a social network, so the company now relies on deeper Twitter, Facebook (FB) and Yelp integration for most of the social aspects of iOS. Apple is still toying with its own social features behind closed doors that may enhance various third-party social services though, and a new patent reveals some interesting functionality that Apple is developing.

In a patent awarded Tuesday that was uncovered by AppleInsider, Apple describes various features that could appear in future devices to augment third-party social networks. The patent describes an “apparatus and method for efficiently managing data in a social networking service,” and could “provide an efficient and highly-scalable friend service database.”

Among the more interesting features described in the filing is the system’s ability to track “stalkers” and “spammers.” The system monitors messages and requests posted by users and designates certain high-volume friends as spammers. Once a predetermined threshold is reached, the system will designate users as stalkers and additional messages will be ignored.

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.