Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 2.2 billion users, is all about capitalizing on scale, and so today it announced that it would be sunsetting three apps in its stable that simply weren’t keeping up. After failing to gain traction, Hello, Moves and tbh will all be depreciated in the coming weeks, the company announced today. The three apps are being shut down at varying times we’re noting below. Facebook says that all user data from all three of these apps will be deleted within 90 days.
“We regularly review our apps to assess which ones people value most. Sometimes this means closing an app and its accompanying APIs,” said Facebook. “We know some people are still using these apps and will be disappointed — and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for their support. But we need to prioritize our work so we don’t spread ourselves too thin. And it’s only by trial and error that we’ll create great social experiences for people.”
But “low usage” is a pretty wide range, it turns out. Sensor Tower notes that Hello had only 570,000 installs — that is, total downloads — but tbh had 6.4 million and Moves 13 million. Still, these numbers are all just blips in comparison to billions of downloads and users of Facebook and the other popular apps that it owns: Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.
The three getting sunset are all examples of the different angles that Facebook has explored over the years to evolve its business into newer areas — not all of which have panned out.
Moves came to Facebook by way of an acquisition four years ago of the fitness and tracking app. At the time, Facebook appeared to be interested in exploring more about how people might use their Facebook social graphs to share more data about their own fitness regimes, and to possibly use Facebook not just as a place to share but to track progress. With its acquisition of Moves, it might have been the case that Facebook believed that it could take a more direct role in that process.
Early on, there was promise: Moves already had amassed four million downloads before the acquisition. However, things simply did not continue to bulk up much after that point, either because Facebook saw that there wasn’t a large enough critical mass of people interested in making fitness social, or because its own spin on how to do that wasn’t where the market has moved. (You could argue that there has always been a huge social element in exercise — gyms and exercise classes being two obvious examples — but these are more about people in physical spaces doing things together.)
In the end, Moves the app hasn’t been updated in more than a year, and it languishes at around 616 in the fitness category today. It will be shut down in the coming weeks, Facebook said.
Hello, launched in 2015, was part of Facebook’s wider strategy to build more communications services to bridge the gap with users, targeting those specifically in emerging markets.
In the case of Hello, the app was Android-only and worked in the U.S., Nigeria and Brazil. The app is a bit like TrueCaller: people could link up their Facebook accounts to a dialer, which would then show you the Facebook identity of a caller so you could decide whether or not you would like to take the call.
As with Moves, Hello came amid a time when many thought Facebook had big plans for communications, with rumors abounding of Facebook phones and Facebook wanting to take on carriers with its own voice services. Hello, however, never expanded — neither in geography nor features — and so now we say goodbye. The Hello app and its API are both getting depreciated on July 31. The app was actually removed from the Android store on June 26, when it had a ranking of 509.
Lastly, tbh is the youngest of the apps to be getting the chop — in more ways than one. The “anonymous compliment” app was made specifically for teens, a relatively new category for Facebook, and the company was only acquired by the social network in October 2017. Indeed, tbh was young and hardly ubiquitous when Facebook snapped it up, and although the company seemed interested in letting it run its course, to be honest, it’s no surprise to see it also go away.
Facebook is no stranger to spring cleaning and clearing out unpopular apps, as well as a wide swathe of other services such as APIs that are no longer core to what it’s working on. Other dead app efforts have included M, the personal assistant app, its Snapchat clone Lifestage and its Groups app. And just today, it issued a notice of several APIs that would be shut down to better reign in how its user data is tapped by third parties.