When you fork over a good chunk of money to buy a non-fungible token, which are digital items also known as NFTs, you’re essentially buying bragging rights. That’s fine, if you’re into that sort of thing, but I imagine that it can be disappointing if you only have a small audience to brag to about your purchases. Twitter wants to change that though, and it just sent out a message to NFT holders: Feel free to come show off over here.
On Thursday, Twitter launched a new feature that allows users to set the NFTs they own as their profile pictures. Unlike the circular avatars that are featured on standard profiles, NFTs will be displayed as a hexagon. Other Twitter users will be able to click on the profile picture to learn more about the NFT, including its owner, description, collection, and properties.
Showing off on Twitter does have a price: $2.99, the cost of a monthly subscription to the social media network’s paid tier, Twitter Blue—plus whatever exorbitant price was paid for the NFT itself, of course. It’s unclear whether the feature will roll out to free Twitter users in the future but hey, you’re crypto-rich, right? Only Twitter Blue users with iOS are able to use the feature at this time, but the NFT can be seen across all platforms by all users.
As far as technical specs go, Twitter can currently only support static images (JPEG or PNG) minted on the Ethereum blockchain. To upload your NFT as your profile picture, you must temporarily connect your Twitter account with your crypto wallet. According to Twitter, the NFT profile picture feature only supports the following crypto wallets: Argent, Coinbase Wallet, Ledger Live, MetaMask, Rainbow, and Trust Wallet.
Esther Crawford, the Twitter product lead in charge of the NFT profile picture feature rollout, told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the feature was positioning Twitter as the social network for the discovery, conversation, and education around NFT, blockchain, and crypto technology.
“Crypto is a key pillar of Twitter’s future. We want to support this growing interest among creators to use decentralized apps to manage virtual goods and currencies,” Crawford said, according to the Journal. “This is just still very early days for us, but we wanted to build something that was a utility for this community that they could start interacting with right now.”
The rollout has had some hiccups. On Thursday, the popular NFT marketplace OpenSea experienced a “database outage,” affecting MetaMask, one of the crypto wallets users can use to upload their NFT profile pictures. As a result, users of the MetaMask crypto wallet couldn’t see their NFTs on Twitter, Vice reported. However, OpenSea told Gizmodo on Friday that its outage did not affect Twitter at all and that issues found by researchers had occurred in a closed beta.
OpenSea’s status page showed all systems as “operational” on Friday. The company confirmed to Gizmodo that the problem was resolved in roughly two hours the previous day.
“We know how important a reliable site with minimal downtime is to our community, and are working quickly to address this area in a number of ways, including expanding our engineering team to more than 200 people by the end of this year, re-architecting OpenSea for scale, and reducing our customer support times significantly,” an OpenSea spokesperson said.
OpenSea pointed out that it had experienced massive growth in transaction volume, which increased 600 times over, in 2021. That kind of rapid growth leads to technical growing pains, the company added.
In addition, on Friday, Twitter super-user and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the new feature was “annoying” and “bs.”
“Twitter is spending engineering resources on this bs while crypto scammers are throwing a spambot block party in every thread!?” Musk wrote on Twitter.
While I totally support the idea of creating a space where people can talk and learn about new technologies, the premise of NFTs continues to concern me. Some buyers buy NFTs to help support artists, which is completely valid and commendable, but others buy tokens from big names (who probably don’t even need the money) to brag about their wealth.
At a time when social media is already filled with aspirational content and inauthenticity, which can harm the youngest and most vulnerable users, enabling another way for people to show off their power and money seems like a step further in the wrong direction.