Instagram Is Getting NFTs But What the Hell Does That Mean?

Instagram Is Getting NFTs But What the Hell Does That Mean?
Mark Zuckerberg, via video, speaks at Into the Metaverse: Creators, Commerce and Connection during the 2022 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin Convention Centre on March 15, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Samantha Burkardt, Getty Images)

Instagram has plans to allow users to display their NFTs and even mint new NFTs within the app, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But what does that even mean? There are quite a few possibilities, and none of them make a whole lot of sense.

“We’re working on bringing NFTs to Instagram in the near term,” Zuckerberg said on Tuesday at South by Southwest, according to Engadget.

“I’m not ready to kind of announce exactly what that’s going to be today. But over the next several months, the ability to bring some of your NFTs in, hopefully over time be able to mint things within that environment,” Zuckerberg continued.

Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are basically just a receipt on a blockchain that can point to anything using a hyperlink. And while most people associate NFTs with the “purchase” of drawings, thanks to the Bored Ape Yacht Club, they can really act as an agreement for purchasing almost anything.

Again, an NFT acts as little more than just a receipt and has no actual enforcement mechanism for stopping anyone else from claiming ownership over the same digital file. And that’s what makes it so confusing when Zuck says Instagram will let users display their NFTs. It’s not clear what that actually means.

It’s also not clear why anyone would want to mint their own NFTs on Instagram. Does Meta plan to open a marketplace where people can sell NFTs of their own photos? That seems likely, even if Zuck hasn’t shown his hand yet. But opening up a dedicated NFT marketplace for Instagram seems like it’s begging to be abused. Most NFT platforms are already struggling with constant claims of copyright infringement and scams. We’ve even launched a monthly round-up of NFT and crypto scams here at Gizmodo (you can read the January and February editions).

Many NFT marketplaces currently have a barrier to entry for selling NFTs through what’s known as gas fees. Will Instagram’s potential NFT marketplace be completely gasless? Only time will tell. But Zuckerberg is clearly going all in on what’s come to be known as Web 3. The big question that remains is whether it will pay off.