Artists to be allowed to sell NFTs on Instagram

Instagram now lets artists and collectors from the United States display and sell digital artworks as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as part of a new trial in the direction of the virtual realms of social media that Facebook-owner Meta envisioned.

The announcement from Meta Group CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri comes as NFTs continue their boom in the art scene, where artists and galleries around the world have been selling digital works with a certificate of ownership.

Technically, NFTs are entries in an endlessly updated digital register, the so-called blockchain, but are being presented by Instagram as “digital collectibles.”

Zuckerberg said in an interview that his company is testing NFTs on the platform and that “similar features” will soon be available on Facebook. Instagram chief Adam Mosseri announced that a small group of U.S. users will be able to see NFTs in their feed, Stories and messages.

The details of NFTs will be displayed in a similar way to profiles and products using keywords (“tags”). Clicking on the tag will display information such as the name of the creator and owner.

Mosseri said the test will initially run on a limited scale so Instagram can learn from the community. There will be no charge for posting or sharing digital collectibles on Instagram.

The aim of the trial is to assess the possibility of allowing creators to earn money with NFTs while also showcasing their virtual art objects.

“I want to acknowledge up front that NFTs and blockchain technologies and Web3 more broadly are all about distributing trust, distributing power,” Mosseri said. “But Instagram is essentially a centralized platform, so there is a tension here.”

Proponents of blockchain technology use the term Web3 for what they say is the third generation of the web. According to them, the first generation (Web 1.0) refers to the era when companies and organizations filled the web with their websites.

Web 2.0 is characterized by the rise of social media services such as Facebook, in which content is primarily generated by the users themselves. In Web 3.0, users will then also own digital assets on the web.

The NFTs that can be presented on Instagram in the future are technically based on the blockchains Ethereum and Polygon. Ethereum in particular has been criticized for its high transaction fees (“gas fees”) and the enormous amount of energy required to secure transactions.

Mosseri emphasized that support for NFTs on Instagram could help introduce the technology to a wider audience. In January, Twitter introduced NFTs on the platform as hexagonal profile pictures.

The promotion of NFT technology is assumed to be a part of the group’s larger metaverse plans. In the virtual parallel world of Meta, users are to be able to move around and interact with each other in the form of digital avatars.

Zuckerberg says it will be possible to trade digital items in the metaverse and that clothes worn by an avatar in the metaverse could be taken to different places with the help of NFT technology.

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