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Facebook Gives Up on Gifts

The move comes amid an e-commerce strategy overhaul at the social network.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Say goodbye to those messages on Facebook asking you to send your friends a gift on their birthdays.

A year ago, Facebook killed off the part of its Gifts service that allowed users to order physical presents through the social network. Now, the company says it is shutting down the remainder of the Gifts business, which allowed you to send digital gift cards to friends on the social network, on August 12.

Facebook said the decision comes as it is focusing more effort on helping developers and businesses use Facebook to increase their own sales rather than on turning Facebook into an online store itself. Facebook recently started testing out a “Buy” button that would allow some businesses to sell products and services directly through Facebook advertisements or Facebook posts.

While the strategy shift seems real, the shutdown of Gifts is also an obvious sign that the service just wasn’t generating enough interest — and sales — to justify continued investment.

“We’ll be using everything we learned from Gifts to explore new ways to help businesses and developers drive sales on the Web, on mobile and directly on Facebook,” Facebook spokeswoman Tera Randall said in a statement.

The Gifts service launched in September 2012 following Facebook’s acquisition of gifting app Karma. But by August of 2013, Facebook had discontinued the physical gift portion of the service due to poor performance. At the time, the company sounded hopeful that the remaining part of the service — which lets Facebook users send digital gift cards from the likes of Starbucks, Apple and Domino’s to friends — still held some promise for success.

Facebook said the Gifts team, including Karma founder Lee Linden, will remain with the company and work on various commerce-related projects within its platform and ads departments.

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