Meta–Facebook’s new parent company–announced earlier this week that it is testing support for NFT-support via Instagram . The feature will allow a few collectors and creators to showcase their digital collectibles through stories and posts, as well as via DMs.
But, if terms such as “NFT” make you nauseous, it’s okay.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are one of the buzziest Web3 technologies. A complete explanation is available. If you are new to the wildworld of crypto ,, you can read . In short: “Migrational” means that each item can be used interchangeably. A dollar bill can be fungible. It doesn’t matter which one of the 11.7 billion or so bills you have–it can be swapped for any other and you still have a dollar. Many cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, are based upon fungible tokens. Although the Blockchain immutably lists who holds which coins (or fractions of coins), it doesn’t really matter in real terms for more than record keeping (and busting criminals).
Something is not fungible is something else–it’s not mutually interchangeable. The houses we live in are not fungible. A straight swap would leave both sides in serious financial trouble. An autographed bill, such as one signed by a celebrity, is also non-fungible in dollars. Although it is still a dollar, its signature and the circumstances surrounding it makes it different from any other dollar bill.
Want a different example? Ingots of gold are fungible. Banks don’t care which particular 27-pound bar of gold they have, they just want it locked in a vault. However, a gold wedding ring is not fungible if it’s a family heirloom.
NFTs, which are crypto tokens, are unique tokens that can be used on a blockchain. They are most often Ethereum but also other blockchains like Polygon or Solana. While they have a wide variety of possible uses, they’re generally associated with digital art, like the Bored Ape Yacht Club, and collectibles, like NBA Top Shot. These allow for a certain degree of digital scarcity. The Bored Ape Yacht Club is a collection of 10,000 algorithmically-generated apes–while anyone can check out the images, only one person can own each individual NFT.
That brings us to Meta. Instagram’s new feature will allow creators and collectors to upload their NFTs to Instagram in a way that makes them stand out from other images and videos. It goes a lot further than Twitter, which has allowed people to use an NFT as their profile picture for a few months.
Each Instagram post will have a “shimmer effect”, a small “digital collection” icon, and automatically tag the creator (if privacy settings permit). It also displays information about the NFT it is part of and its owner. To verify all this, users will have to connect the crypto wallet containing their NFT to Instagram (though having a web-connected wallet comes with risks).
To start, just 16 accounts will have the ability to share NFTs in this special way, and they are, as Meta lists them: “@adambombsquad, @bluethegreat, @bossbeautiesnft, @c.syresmith, @cynthiaerivo, @garyvee, @jenstark, @justmaiko, @maliha_z_art, @misshattan, @nopattern, @oseanworld, @paigebueckers, @phiawilson, @swopes and @yungjake.” For the time being, the rest of us commoners will only be able to view them, though if it proves successful, it will presumably roll out to more users.
In a video posted to the social network, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, framed this initiative as driven by a desire to offer creators more ways to monetize their work. The test will be small to allow Instagram to learn from its community. He tried to avoid reflexive skepticism by saying that NFTs, blockchain technologies, and Web3 more generally are all about trust distribution, distributing strength. “But Instagram is fundamentally centralized, so there’s tension there,” he continued. He stated that Instagram has the ability to make NFTs more accessible to a wider audience, which is true but not without risks.
In a similar video on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the same sort of functionality wo