As you can see in this screenshot, posted by @flytip, some users are now being prompted to add an NFT as their profile image, which will then be displayed in a new, hexagonal format, and provide a direct link to the NFTs listing on a blockchain as proof of ownership.
As we reported back in November, Twitter’s looking to tap into the rising popularity of NFT profile images by building an official integration process, which will make it easier for NFT owners to display their ownership, with the back-end linkage to each NFT’s official information ensuring that only the actual owner of an image can display it in the new profile image format.
Once that linkage is provided, profile visitors will also be able to view more information about each NFT by tapping on it, taking them through to a listing of both the owner and creator, as listed on the chain.
That addresses a key criticism of NFTs, that anyone can just right-click and save your image and use it as their profile picture as well. With this new system, only the owner will have access to the official hexagonal format PFP, which will reduce unapproved use, and improve the broader NFT display process.
NFTs have become a key trend over the past few months, with Twitter being a central home for much of the NFT discussion, and for displaying your purchased art. Though despite the hype, there are still challenges and concerns in the space.
For one, underlying copyright, i.e. total ownership of the original art, doesn’t currently extend to NFTs, which makes actual ownership questionable, as you only really own a record of purchase, not the original art itself. That means that if the original creator wanted to, say, create a line of t-shirts displaying your NFT, you would get nothing for that, and there’s no official legal recourse for controlling re-use in this respect as yet.
Many NFT variations are also auto-generated, which adds more complexity to the ownership question, as the original artist, in some cases, is an AI system, not an actual person or company, while there are also concerns about ‘pump and dump’ schemes in the space, where scammers are looking to cash in on the popularity of these new profile images by artificially inflating the price of their own NFT projects, in order to on-sell them to unwitting investors who think that they’re getting in on the next big thing.
And despite their broader connection to the ‘Web3’ movement, which is focused on facilitating greater economic opportunity for all, current evidence suggests that only a small amount of high volume traders are actually making money off NFTs.
According to recent reports, despite total NFT sales reaching $25 billion in 2021, just 10% of traders accounted for 85% of all NFT transactions. That’s a huge disparity in the market, which also gives these higher-end investors more motivation to promote NFT projects, with a view to boosting the price of each, in order to sell them off at a profit.
There are many questionable elements within the broader ‘investor’ movement in the space, but as a project, NFTs do enable smaller art buyers and enthusiasts to pay artists for their work – and if you like the art and are keen to build the digital creative ecosystem, then it could be a good way to contribute.
But the longer-term view for NFTs is unclear. As a process, there will clearly be more buying and selling of digital goods in future, and NFTs provide a framework, of sorts, for that. But whether such investment will focus on profile image projects and digital art is not so certain, so while it may be a good starting point, the broader ‘value’ in the space will likely shift, especially as more metaverse-aligned projects come into play.
If all of that sounds confusing, it kind of is, but really, the bottom line is that NFT trading, as a process, is a strong proof-of-concept for the transaction of digital goods, which will become a much bigger deal moving forward. But would I be sinking tens of thousands of dollars into a Bored Apes picture, in the hopes of flipping it in future? No, I would not.
Still, for those that are caught up in the NFT hype, which seems to be focused on community and engagement as much as the projects themselves, then this new Twitter profile display option could be a great tool for showcasing your latest buys to other NFT collectors.
Twitter hasn’t provided any details on a full roll-out or test, but it looks to be coming soon.