PALO ALTO, California: Burgeoning social networking doyen Facebook is to launch a service enabling advertisers to target its users based on data they provide about themselves on its highly popular website.

The information made available by users can include everything from their date of birth, hobbies and interests to places and events they are planning to visit, as well as a wide variety of photographs.

Advertisers will be able to access a special website containing this data, which will then enable them to identify their target audience with what is hoped will be a high level of accuracy.

The ads would be different from the banner and box ads currently featured on the site, forming part of the "news feed" section which details the activities of a user's listed "friends".

The plan is seen as an effort to monetize Facebook which, while receiving 30.6 million visitors last month, is expected to make a profit of just $30 million (€22m; £15m) this year.

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004 whilst attending Harvard University. In May 2005, Facebook raised $12.7 million in venture capital from Accel Partners, although it remains an independently-owned entity.

Data sourced from The Times (UK); additional content by WARC staff