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Facebook already marking down prices on Gifts

The social network is discounting prices so some members can pick up gifts for as little as a buck.

Screenshot/Shara Tibken
Facebook really wants you to buy gifts from its new marketplace, so much so that the social network is willing to dramatically mark down prices.

Take, for instance, a brand-new Facebook promotion to "Get $4 Off Your Gift" of $5 or more.

The sale pricing is being shown to select members alongside birthday notifications in the right-hand column of the site. A spokesperson for the social network confirmed to CNET that the discounted Gifts offer is a "new test," but would not share additional details.

CNET reporter Shara Tibken first spotted the up-to-80-percent-off message this morning as she was posting a happy-birthday message to a friend's Facebook wall.

The offer, especially when coupled with an ostentatious Valentine's Day promotion and a News Feed test, appears like a desperate ploy to get members into Facebook's digital store. And it is. Facebook does not yet make meaningful revenue from the product, which was rolled out to all U.S. members in December.

Desperate though the ploy may be, it could work. Facebook's store includes a few $5 gift items, which means members can use the offer to send a decent gift, say a $5 gift card to Starbucks, for just a buck. In the process, Facebook gets to keep the member's credit card information on hand, and ideally will be able to convert the one-time buyer into a more regular customer.