The feature helps show people how NFTs work. The popular rallying cry of people who think NFTs are stupid is “I just right-clicked and saved it.” Anyone with enough patience typically explains that non-fungible tokens are blockchain-based ownership certificates, so while anyone can screenshot it and display it, that’s not the same as owning it. Twitter’s feature shows that rather than just telling it: only the owner of an NFT can prove, by plugging into the Ethereum blockchain, that they own it, and get the verified hexagon.
The divide between NFT fanatics and NFT haters is getting worse. The well-documented hatred that so many people (especially gamers) have for NFTs is not going to dissipate overnight, and the way Twitter is displaying the verified NFTs is making the vitriol even stronger. Emma Langevin, a Twitch streamer with 725,000 followers, tweeted, “Twitter just asked me if i wanted to make my pfp an NFT i’m shaking i’m throwing up i’m crying i just wanna go back in time before those nerds made this shit mainstream.” Just search “hexagon” on Twitter to see more mocking. Ross O’Donovan, another Twitch streamer, encouraged people to “write a script that autoblocks everyone with a hexagon profile picture.” Another person likened the hexagon PFP to a “kick me” sign.
Even the NFT crowd isn’t entirely happy with the feature. On Thursday, I listened in on a Twitter Spaces entitled, “Did Twitter Just Use Us to Sell a Feature Without Prioritizing Our Needs?” In a heated three-hour forum, NFT fans complained about Twitter using the NFT feature to sell Twitter Blue subscriptions. Capitalists might remind them that Twitter is a business, with shareholders, and needs to generate revenue. But this will be something to monitor: If even the NFT fans ditch the verified NFT PFPs, the feature will be a failure.
The feature marks Twitter even more as a pro-crypto company. It wouldn’t be quite right to call Twitter a Web3 company—not until it runs on a blockchain—but embracing NFT profile pictures and crypto tipping plants a flag. After Bitcoin maximalist Jack Dorsey exited, some onlookers wondered if Twitter would back away from crypto. Instead, it went in deeper, and went beyond Bitcoin. Still, most Twitter shareholders will not like it. Facebook and Square both saw their stocks dive when they rebranded to Meta and Block, respectively. The NFT rollout did nothing to help Twitter stock, which fell 9% this week.
Twitter just gave OpenSea an even bigger lead. OpenSea is the top NFT marketplace by a longshot, and smashed its monthly record last week only halfway through the month. It has a huge lead over challengers like SuperRare, Foundation, Nifty Gateway, Zora, Rarible, and LooksRare. If you’re those marketplaces, you are not happy to see the Twitter feature; it’s like Facebook adding a feature for sharing your sneaker collection, but only supporting Nike sneakers. What will those marketplaces do now to stand out and compete?