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Facebook embraces Valentine's Day to hawk gifts

The social network wants everyone to know that it's not too late to send little trinkets to loved ones.

Facebook hawks last-minute Valentine's Day gifts.
Screenshot/Jennifer Van Grove

There's no escaping Valentine's Day -- especially on Facebook. In addition to catching countless updates from friends loving or lamenting the day, you'll find that the social network has morphed into a last-minute V-day gift shop.

Facebook is today showing members a customized Valentine's Day prompt that encourages them to surprise friends or loved ones with a not-too-late little something purchased from the social network's Gifts online marketplace. The promotion is live atop the Facebook News Feed for a large percentage of U.S. users, a company spokesperson confirmed to CNET.

Facebook members who have listed that they're in a relationship will see a message that reads somethings like, "Add [this gift] to your list of Valentine's Day surprises for [your signifiant other]." Single folks will find a more generic, "Surprise your Friends for $8" style message. The products and price points featured in the prompt will rotate throughout the day, the spokesperson said.

The promotion, albeit a bit intrusive, seems like a practical way to aggressively hawk goods from the just-opened Facebook Gifts store. Gifts rolled out to U.S. Facebook users toward the end of 2012. The product has yet to generate any meaningful revenue -- at most $2.5 million in the fourth quarter -- and won't for all of 2013, David Ebersman, Facebook's chief financial officer, warned investors.

Of course, the bleak outlook won't stop Facebook from trying to drive more people to its still mostly ignored store, as evidenced by today's promotion. Too bad there aren't more holidays.