Facebook testing Groupon-style deals service

Facebook’s squaring up to the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial with a new discount deals program.

The company is planning to offer multiple deals every day, focusing particularly on activities that can be shared with friends, such are visiting restaurants and concerts.

The deals will be generated by staff within Facebook, as well as by partners including ReachLocal, Gilt City, Tippr, HomeRun.com, PopSugar City, KGB Deals, Plum District and Zozi.

The plan builds on the company’s existing Deals program, which is offered as part of Facebook Places. For the new service, which will allow users to sign up for deals and share them with friends, a link will appear on the left-hand side of the user’s home page. This leads to a special page listing local promotions.

Facebook plans to start testing the service in Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, San Francisco and San Diego. “With Deals you can easily find great new restaurants, shows and group activities to share with friends,” it says.

“Get together. Get rewards. Deals brings together great offers on things to do, so you and your friends can save while you spend time together.”

The announcement may come as something of a blow to Groupon, which is on the verge of an IPO. But with 60 million users, it at least has a big head start.

Facebook’s promising more information soon – including whether or not users will need to buy daily deals with Facebook Credits.