Facebook’s Moments app skyrocketed to the No. 1 on Apple’s App store — from 60th place — in the few days after the social network began warning users that synched photos could soon disappear if they don’t download the app.
Facebook has been notifying people outside of the EU and Canada the company will be deleting photos synced from their photo stream to their Facebook timelines starting July 7, according to Lauren Svensson, a Facebook spokesperson.
Facebook’s main app first launched an opt-in, automatic photo syncing feature in 2012 to give users a way to sync photos from their phone camera roll to a private album on Facebook. Svensson said in an e-mail the feature launched at a time when most people uploaded photos from their computer, and they could easily post pictures if photos from their phone were already synced to the website.
Facebook began phasing out the syncing feature in December 2015 and instead launched Moments. This new app is meant to ease private photo sharing with close friends by tapping into the phone’s photo stream and using facial recognition to order pictures by the people in them.
The change won’t affect photos stored on the user’s phone or other photo streams, nor will it delete photos a user has manually uploaded. For those that used the feature of automatically copying phone photos into Facebook photo albums as a photo backup — much like Google’s Photos or Yahoo’s Flickr — the warning becomes more urgent. It also shows Facebook has figured out a way to get people to download their apps at a time when app downloads are slowing significantly.
Moments app went from not being the top five app in any country on June 9 to topping the charts of the U.S. and Puerto Rico the next day, according to analytic site App Annie. Over the next few days, Moments was among the top three App Store apps in the U.S., beating out both Facebook and Facebook Messenger.
That was due to continued waves of “responders” who have been taking the time to download the app at different times, according to Christine Kim, spokesperson for App Annie.
It’s currently No. 19, losing ground to stalwarts such as Snapchat and Messenger, and as the T-Mobile Tuesdays app hit No. 1.
Kim noted how Facebook similarly encouraged users to download Facebook Messenger in 2011 to communicate with their friends on mobile. Though Facebook did not send out an e-mail at the time, it sent out a push notification and prompted downloading the external app within the main app.