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Facebook prompts users to send gifts to friends with good news

The social network scans status updates for keywords that make for gift-giving moments.

Facebook has started nudging members to send gifts to friends with especially good news.

The company is featuring "Give a Gift" buttons in the News Feed alongside select status updates that mention special occasions such as a job change.

The buttons were first spotted by Inside Facebook, which obtained screenshots of status updates that talk about new jobs and show the Give a Gift suggestion. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to CNET that the buttons are part of a "newer test," and are "signaled by keywords."

Inside Facebook

The appearance of the buttons in News Feed marks the first time that Facebook has turned to the stream to prompt its fledgling Gifts service, a product that has yet to generate meaningful revenue for Facebook.

The social network also appears to be branching out on its definition of a gift-giving occasion. Facebook currently uses member profile data to encourage you to give gifts to your friends with birthdays and anniversaries, as listed in the right-hand sidebar. The newest "Give a Gift" buttons showing in News Feed, however, draw from the content of a status update to make an intelligent assumption about an important life event that might warrant a gift. Inside Facebook suggests that the social network is employing natural language technology from Karma, the gifting startup Facebook bought before launching its Gifts marketplace.

The smart "Give a Gift" buttons, if rolled out more widely, should help Facebook remind members that its otherwise hidden store is chalk full of little doodads for many an occasion. But don't expect Gifts to turn into a real money-maker anytime soon. David Ebersman, Facebook's chief financial officer, warned investors that the product would not be a substantial source of revenue for the company for all of 2013.