MENLO PARK, CALIFORNIA: Facebook, the social network, has launched a gift-giving feature that will let users buy and send items to their friends without leaving the site, as it seeks new ways to monetise its platform.

The service is currently only available in the US with just a handful of products on offer, including cupcakes and Starbucks gift cards.

The company plans to add new options daily, however, to include items such as chocolates, socks and flowers, and will share an undisclosed percentage of the revenue with partners.

In a statement, Facebook said: "Every day, millions of people share special moments with their friends on Facebook by saying 'Happy Birthday', ‘Congratulations', or simply, 'I'm thinking of you'. Now there is another way to celebrate those moments."

The move into physical goods is a development of a now-discontinued service that charged users to send virtual gifts to friends, a history which is reflected in the tagline promoting the new feature: 'Real friends. Real gifts'.

One crucial piece of information Facebook lacks are people's physical addresses, so when a user orders a gift, the friend receives a Facebook message asking for that data.

The unveiling of the new strategy came on the same day that US privacy campaigners wrote to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to examine whether Facebook's data-sharing agreement with Datalogix violates a confidentiality agreement.

Data sourced from FT; additional content by Warc staff