Is that a real Crypto Punk—or is someone, well, punking people?
Twitter is hoping to answer that question as the platform continues to attract a lot of attention to NFTs such Crypto Punks, digital collectibles and cryptocurrency cryptocurrencies. The social media company today debuted a feature that will verify a Twitter user’s ownership of a specific NFT. This function lets someone link their ether wallet with their Twitter account. Once done, that person can display their NFTs as their Twitter profile pictures within a hexagonal frame, that hexagon serving the same function as an authentication signpost as Twitter’s blue check marks. (Without some sort of verification tool, a dozen people could use the same NFT in their profile pictures without anyone knowing who really owned it—such is the drawback of digital art.) For now, these verified NFTs are available only to iPhone users who pay for Twitter’s premium subscription service, Twitter Blue.
It is a small but significant move for Twitter, which has sought to capitalize on founder Jack Dorsey’s interest in cryptocurrency and make its site a hotbed for discussion around crypto, increasingly one of the internet’s favorite topics. These NFT profile pictures are the first publicly unveiled project since Twitter formed a specific unit within the company—Twitter Crypto—designed to think about incorporating blockchain tech into the business. Twitter revealed that bitcoin would be allowed in its Tips function. Users can use the tip to send money to creators.
Twitter’s launch comes at an ominous moment. Financial Times today reported on Meta’s own plans for NFTs, ambitions that seem distinctly like Twitter’s. Meta, formerly Facebook, is reportedly seeking to create its own market and mechanism to create NFTs. This would put it at the same time as a number of other NFT startup companies, including OpenSea.
With this, Meta would like you to think that its sheer size—around 3 billion users on Facebook and Instagram—will give it a leg up in this competition. If you buy that thinking unquestioningly, there’s some virtual swampland I’d like to sell you, too: Facebook has a long track record of trying to innovate through straight up copycatting, a tactic that has failed nearly every time it has tried.