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Facebook's New Service Gifts A New Revenue Stream

Facebook is going into the e-commerce business with a new service, Gifts. It was made possible by the firm's purchase of Karma a couple of months back and the fact that it's partnered with some large-ish names to provide small-ish gifts. Think toys, homeware, cookies, and Double Shot Mocha Bubble Skinny Decaf Soya Lattes (with extra cinnamon sprinkles) from Facebook's biggest partner, Starbucks.

Best mate in Australia having a baby? There's a gift for that. Facebook is capitalizing on its knowledge of users' milestones—birthdays and life events, as it calls them. Whatever present you choose will be gift wrapped, include a personal message, and then shipped off Down Under to the Bunga-Bungas. And the best gift for Facebook? A brand-new boatload of freshly mined data about its users. Priceless.

Although only available in select cities right now, the service will be rolled out throughout the U.S. and also spread virally. If Gifts functions as expected, it has the potential to bring a huge slice of revenue to Facebook—which, face it, is better than a poke in the eye.