Why Facebook is Trying to Get You to Download Moments

Following up its success with Facebook Messenger, Facebook is trying to make Facebook Moments its next big app. As Sarah Perez reports for TechCrunch, Facebook is forcing the photo-sharing app on users in much the same way that it pushed users to install Messenger. Facebook’s latest move is to warn users that some of their photos will be deleted if they don’t install Facebook Moments and download their Synced Albums by July 7. After that date, Facebook plans to delete the album containing their Synced Photos.

Facebook has been using notifications to alert users, and it’s also started emailing users to tell them to install the app. Perez notes that that’s an unusual move, but one that’s necessary now that the social network is planning on deleting their data. The campaign has been effective, and managed to make Moments the No. 1 app in the App Store. However, many users aren’t even aware that they have a synced album. If you’re confused about what’s going on with Facebook Moments, or are upset that Facebook is trying to force you to install another app, here’s what you need to know.

First of all: What photo-syncing?!

Photo-syncing was an optional feature that Facebook launched on iOS in 2012 to enable users to automatically copy all of their photos from their iPhone to a private album on Facebook. At the time, lots of people were taking photos on their phones, but many still posted primarily from their computers. As Perez explains, the idea was that by having your photos already uploaded to the social network, Facebook would make it easier for you to find them and share them with your friends later. The uploaded photos are stored in an album called Synced in the app, or Synced from Phone on desktop. It’s this album that Facebook is deleting on July 7 — not all of the Facebook photos that you’ve uploaded from your phone, and not all of your photos.

The most important takeaway is that even though some Facebook users — including, most likely, some of your Facebook friends — don’t understand it, Facebook isn’t threatening to delete your entire photo archive if you don’t install Moments. Facebook is pushing you to install another Facebook app, just like it pressured you to install Messenger. Perez reports that “forced adoption is a tactic that clearly works for the company,” since removing chat from the main Facebook app made Messenger one of the top apps in the App Store. Some users resisted the push toward Messenger and used Facebook’s mobile website instead, but Facebook is closing that loophole.

What is Facebook Moments?

Facebook Moments app

Source: iTunes.apple.com

Facebook has long made it clear that it thinks Moments will be its next big hit. It began promoting Facebook Moments in the News Feed last fall, and used Messenger to send notifications when users receive photos from friends. The same notifications began appearing in Facebook’s main app, as well. And at the end of the year, Facebook warned users that it would phase out its photo syncing feature and suggested that they move to Moments instead. Now, that suggestion is turning into a more forceful push.

But as Molly McHugh reported for Wired when Facebook Moments was first introduced, Moments is a smarter photo app that combines photo storage and auto-syncing with private sharing, with some facial recognition features thrown in, as well. Moments arranges the photos on your phone into groups based on when they were taken, like at a wedding or on a weekend road trip. Facebook’s facial recognition technology identifies your friends in the photos, and you can privately send those photos to the people in the shot. When you download and open the app, it labels two catalogs of photos: Private and Synced. When you first launch the app, everything is Private. You can choose to share photos with people whom Facebook has determined you were with, and you can choose to sync some photos and keep others private.

Sometimes, Facebook will ask if you want to sync photos with one person, and sometimes it asks if you want to sync photos with a group. Photos will be shared in your friends’ Moments app, and if they don’t yet have the app, they’ll receive a private message (with a prompt to download Facebook Moments). McHugh noted that Moments makes it simple to share photos with your friends, which is often “an all-or-nothing process. You can share one photo or an entire album via private message, but there’s no fancy A.I. telling you when a certain person might appreciate those photos, or grouping them so you don’t have to.” That changes with Moments.

How do you use Moments?

Once you’ve downloaded Facebook Moments (on iOS or Android), the app is pretty simple to use. As Biz Carson reports for Business Insider, the app will ask your permission to access the photos stored on your phone, and once you grant that permission, it will start grouping photos based on where they were taken and who’s in them. Then, you’ll start seeing suggestions on who to share photos with, and you can either dismiss the suggestion or choose exactly which photos you want to share. If the app doesn’t automatically detect who’s in the photos, you can still select Facebook friends with whom you’d like to share.

For each “moment,” you can choose to add a title, or you can use the integrated chat feature to ask your friends to share the photos that they took at the same event or on the same trip. You can combine photos taken by multiple people, and if you have at least six photos, you can turn the moment into a slideshow with music and title slides. Though Facebook Moments is designed for sharing photos privately among friends, the app does enable you to share a slideshow or an album to Facebook, where it can be seen by the rest of your friends.

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