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Meta CEO Zuckerberg confirms NFTs are headed to Instagram

NFTs are coming to Instagram, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed. Talking to Shark Tank’s Daymond John over a virtual call at SXSW 2022, Zuckerberg revealed that the company is currently at work with the goal of “bringing NFTs to Instagram in the near term.” The Meta chief refused to share any further details about his NFT aspirations on Instagram, aside from pointing out that it will all be tied to his metaverse dreams.

Zuckerberg noted that users will be able to mint the clothes worn by their virtual avatar in the metaverse as NFTs. He added that there are still a few technical challenges that need to be polished and more details about Instagram’s NFT plans will be shared in the “next several months.” The confirmation comes months after Instagram head Adam Mosseri divulged that the company was actively exploring NFTs.

As per a Financial Times report from January this year, Meta is working on features that will let Facebook and Instagram users flaunt their NFT collection on their profile pictures. If that sounds familiar, well, it’s because Twitter already allows users to do so with unique hexagonal NFT profile pictures. But Meta’s plans are reportedly a lot more ambitious than just flaunting NFT profile pictures on social media.

Ambitious plans shrouded in mystery

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes a presentation on a patio with palm trees behind him.

The company is said to be working on prototype systems that will allow users to mint digital art as an NFT right on its social media platforms. Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Instagram will also let users trade NFTs. Instagram was said to be internally testing its NFT feature in January.

Facebook’s Novi digital wallet will reportedly also be vital to the NFT plans on Instagram and Facebook. Meta’s own crypto plans have been shelved after a long spell of regulatory scrutiny, but it appears that the company at least wants the wallet to serve a purpose. And NFTs appear to be tailor-made for it. The NFT trade is booming. According to investment bank Jefferies (via Coindesk), the marketplace will touch the $35 billion mark in 2022.

And it appears that everyone wants a piece of the pie. TikTok has already experimented with creator-driven NFTs by roping in artists like Lil Nas X, Bella Poarch, and Gary Vaynerchuk, among others. In January, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki also expressed excitement about NFTs as yet another tool to help its creator community.

A divisive move in embattled times

The Instagram mobile app is visible on a phone screen in a man's hand.

The trend of social media platforms salivating at the idea of NFTs as the next big moneymaking scheme has drawn a mixed response. But if the scathing criticism faced by gaming brands over their NFT initiatives is anything to go by, the road ahead won’t be free of bumps.

And then there is the whole environmental impact aspect of NFTs. For the unaware, NFTs are registered on the blockchain and the trade happens predominantly using cryptocurrencies, both of which are infamous for their disproportionately high energy consumption.

A few weeks ago, the World Wildlife Fund launched NFTs of endangered animal species to raise money toward conservation efforts, but the intense backlash on the internet forced it to halt the sales. With Meta entering the hotly debated universe of blockchain and cryptocurrencies with its NFT plans, and an unenviable brand image in tow, it’s hard to imagine that the reception will be a walk in the park.

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