Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg confirmed earlier reports that video and photo-sharing app Instagram plans to add non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to the platform. The Meta Platforms Inc. (FB) CEO told Shark Tank’s Daymon John at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday that the popular social media app plans to offer NFTs shortly.
“We’re working on bringing NFTs to Instagram in the near term,” Zuckerberg said.1
Zuckerberg hopes users would be able to mint their own NFTs on the platform within the coming months, Platformer newsletter writer and crypto influencer Casey Newton tweeted to his 152k followers. Last December, Instagram—which has more than a billion monthly active users—said it was actively exploring bringing NFT technology to a wider audience.
“I think it’s an interesting place that we can play and also to hopefully help creators,” Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s head of programming, posted to the platform.2
Instagram NFTs Align with Meta’s Metaverse Vision
Instagram’s move into NFTs fits with parent company Meta’s vision of integrating with the virtual world, known as the metaverse. In October 2021, Facebook changed its name to Meta, reflecting this change of direction. At the time, the company’s head of metaverse products, Vishal Shah, said Meta would support NFTs. “This will make it easier for people to sell Limited Edition digital objects like NFTs, display them in their digital spaces, and even resell them to the next person securely,” he said.3
The metaverse is a digital reality that combines aspects of social media, online gaming, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and cryptocurrencies to allow users to interact virtually.
Second-Time Lucky for a Crypto-Related Product?
NFTs aren’t Meta’s first attempt at launching a crypto-related product. In 2019, the company planned to roll out a USD-pegged stablecoin called “Diem”—formally branded as “Libra”—on its platform. The digital currency would have allowed for in-app purchases and facilitated transferring money between users without the need to go through the traditional financial system. However, due to a range of regulatory hurdles and internal disagreement over the cryptocurrency’s direction, Meta failed to launch Diem.
When it was first introduced in June 2019, Diem was known as Libra. Its original design envisaged a digital currency, backed by a basket of fiat currencies, available for use in the social media giant’s network.4
Social Media Giants Cashing in on NFTs
Other social media companies have also moved to add NFTs to their platforms. In January, Twitter, Inc. (TWTR) allowed its premium subscribers on iOS to add an NFT profile picture with plans to roll out the technology on its Android app and website. Just a few weeks later, community networking site Reddit followed Twitter’s lead, saying they were testing NFT avatars on their platform.
Meanwhile, pay-per-view site OnlyFans announced in February that it would let content creators use NFT profile pictures minted on the Ethereum blockchain. As cryptocurrencies and digital product offerings gain wider adoption, look for social media platforms to continue looking for innovative ways to monetize the metaverse.