Belfast Telegraph

Why your magic Moments will be lost without this photo app

Katie Wright on how Facebook is forcing users' hands - yet again

Facebook has announced it will delete all photos users have synced from their mobile phones to its main app if they don't install the Moments app before July 7.

The popular photo-syncing service - which puts images in a private folder rather than making them publicly visible on a profile - was introduced in 2012, offering unlimited storage, but in January the social network stopped support for automatic syncing, forcing users to download Moments - on Apple or Android - if they wanted to continue using that feature.

If you don't want to use the new app, there is the option to download all your pictures to your computer, but that essentially defeats the object of preventing all those big files taking up space on your devices. How annoying is that "no storage available" notification when you're trying to take a photo?

This isn't the first time the world's biggest social network has siphoned off a service. In 2014, private messaging on the main app was discontinued and the Messenger app was launched, but there was a workaround: some stubborn Facebookers still use the web browser version so they can message on their mobiles, but soon even that won't be an option.

So why does Facebook want its one billion active users to clog up their phone screens - and memories - with more apps?

"Advertising revenue", you might say, but the answer is actually more complicated than that.

In the case of Messenger, Facebook claims it gives users the "best experience", because it includes some features not available on the web version.

However, since you don't actually need a Facebook account to use Messenger, just a mobile phone number, the app represents a useful way for the site to collect data from a group it couldn't otherwise reach, and to encourage more users to sign up.

With Moments, you do need a Facebook account, so it's less likely to increase sign-ups, but it still provides statistics about how users interact. The more data Facebook has, the better it can target its advertising, which is where the ad revenue comes in. And the switch-or-lose tactic works: Moments has shot straight to the top of Apple's app charts. For snap-happy users, compared with years of memories disappearing forever, downloading one more app is worth it.

Belfast Telegraph