Riding the crypto surge: Twitter’s NFT profiles and what’s next

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Willem Lent

Following the introduction of Twitter’s hexagonal NFT profile picture option, every user encountered this banner upon visiting their own profile.

Willem Lent, Section Editor

Following the explosion of NFTs on Twitter late last year, the site has made the decision to introduce NFT-based profile options to their platform. Twitter has decided to integrate a crypto-wallet into the platform in addition to crypto-related ads and hexagonal profile pictures for NFT owners. The changes went live on January 20 and so far the rampant discussion has not died down. 

For the uninitiated, NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token and they are designed to be one of a kind digital assets purchased for cryptocurrency. All NFT transactions are logged on the blockchain, a digital ledger meant to legitimize said transactions.They are in essence collectors items that only exist in digital space—if you were to buy one you’d essentially just have a receipt rather than both that and a product. 

While some argue that NFTs open a new avenue for artwork and its consumption, others argue against their consumption for environmental and moral reasons such as art theft and the consumption of electricity for crypto mining.

As the forefront of social media platforms integrating NFT and crypto into their systems, Twitter has become engulfed in dialog about the direct integration of crypto into the platform. The preexisting back and forth attacks from both sides of the issue have only intensified, especially with celebrities like Paris Hilton, Jimmy Fallon, Logan Paul, and even Serena Williams purchasing NFTs and making posts about them. In addition to amplifying backlash, these purchases also make NFTs more mainstream—and also more expensive. 

The proliferation of NFTs on Twitter has mirrored the surge of other internet-based marketing plans. Last October, Mark Zuckerberg announced his plans to rebrand Facebook into Meta with the goal of introducing “people to shared virtual worlds and experiences across different software and hardware platforms,” (Frenkel 4). Since then, the company has been gearing up to fully delve into virtual experiences, from meetings to parties. 

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has also stated that the company could delve into NFTs in the near future following Twitter’s integration. Even Walmart has made early steps towards creating virtual shopping options to completely avoid going to the store in person for a more seamless experience. 

At just the start of the year, the spread of virtual assets and metaverse technology has already grown immensely from the end of last year, and is likely only to continue to grow in influence as the Covid pandemic continues. Critics of the systems will likely only maintain their positions as more and more companies continue to try and integrate a potential new source of income into their platforms and experiences.