In a press release issued on Thursday, Twitter Inc. announced the launch of a tool that allows users to display non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as their profile pictures, capitalising on a digital collectibles craze that has exploded in recent months.
Customers who subscribe to the company’s Twitter Blue subscription service will be able to access the feature on iOS, which connects their Twitter accounts to cryptocurrency wallets where they can store their NFT holdings.
Twitter displays the NFT profile pictures as hexagons, which distinguishes them from the standard circles that are displayed for other Twitter users. When you tap on the images, information about the artwork and its owner will appear.
The social media platform, like other tech companies, is rushing to cash in on cryptocurrency trends such as NFTs, which are a type of speculative asset that authenticates digital items such as images, videos, and real estate in virtual worlds.
Users were able to send and receive Bitcoin through the social media platform last year, thanks to an update.
In 2021, according to data from market tracker DappRadar, sales of NFTs will have reached approximately $25 billion, though there are signs that growth will be slower toward the end of the year.
Internet “Web3” technologies such as NFTs, according to their proponents, decentralise ownership online, allowing users to profit from popular creations rather than having those benefits accrue primarily to a small number of tech platforms.
Criticism of decentralisation claims is based on the fact that many of the services that are facilitating the adoption of those technologies – such as the six cryptocurrency wallets supported by Twitter’s NFT product – are funded by an extremely small group of venture capitalists.
Security researcher Jane Manchun Wong highlighted one of those links in a widely shared tweet following the launch, demonstrating how an outage at venture-backed NFT marketplace OpenSea temporarily prevented NFTs from loading on Twitter.
Reuters reached out to OpenSea for comment, but did not receive a response right away.