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This article was published on January 24, 2022

Twitter launched NFT profile pictures — people are hella mad

Who moved my NFTs?

Twitter launched NFT profile pictures — people are hella mad
Ivan Mehta
Story by

Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

I envy your internet if you don’t come across ‘NFT’ once a day. It’s not enthusiasts; even large tech companies want to explore and integrate this new tech into their services. Last week, Twitter became the first major platform to introduce NFT-based profile pictures. The trouble is it didn’t go down well with its user base at large.

Here’s how this feature works on the bird site: If you have bought or minted an NFT on an Etherum-based marketplace, you can set it as your profile picture, and it’ll show up in the hexagonal shape. Tap on the tweet below to see the hex avatar on the Twitter app or website.

However, there are a few limitations. You have to have a Twitter Blue subscription, which is only available in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Plus, you need to have an iOS device to set an NFT as your profile picture. You can read more about the requirements and procedures for setting an NFT as your profile image here.

Twitter NFT profile picture
A brief overview of how Twitter’s NFT profile picture feature would work

While Twitter thought this might be a cool idea, a ton of users were unhappy with this step.

Hiccups and reactions

A lot of people, including Elon Musk, thought that this limiting functionality is annoying, and it’ll make people with hex avatars a bit more entitled. The Tesla chief thought Twitter should spend more engineering talent in blocking crypto spammers. Why should he? He has been scammers’ favorite personality to impersonate.

Other users are just irritated by this new change.

Programmers have even started building bots to block anyone with a hex profile automatically.

Even NFT advocates weren’t really impressed. It was frustrating for people not using an iOS device, as they couldn’t set their pre-owned NFTs as profile pictures. iOS exclusivity for a feature is bad form for a company as large as Twitter; there’s no good excuse for excluding Android users in 2022, even if it’s temporary.

Hours after the rollout, OpenSea’s APIs — a popular NFT marketplace — were down, resulting in some Twitter users with NFT avatar having blank images display as their profile pictures. That’s a real bummer.

Plus, there were concerns about the verification of NFTs. As a user, Adam Hollander pointed out, that as Twitter just checks if an NFT is linked to your wallet, it’s hard to differentiate NFTs that are part of an exclusive collection at a glance.

Before Twitter rolled out this feature, a ton of folks had popular NFTs, such as those from the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection, as their avatars. as their avatars. But there’s was no way to tell if they are genuine NFTs or just JPEG images of them.

A few members of the Bored Ape Yatch Club. This is just a good old PNG image, though.
A few members of the Bored Ape Yacht Club. This is just a good old PNG image, though. (Credit: BAYC)

The social network’s new feature will let you click/tap on a hex picture to check various attributes of NFTs, such as the token ID, blockchain type, and what collection it belongs to. You can see an example in the screenshot of these details below.

An example of details linked to an NFT-based profile picture. (Credit:alextoma.eth/Twitter)
An example of details linked to an NFT-based profile picture. (Credit:alextoma.eth/Twitter)

People are also creating templates for hexagonal profile pictures, so you can make your regular avatar image look like an NFT one. So, the onus is still on the user to click on a profile picture, and read through the details to identify if an NFT belongs to a prestigious collection. That’s too much work.

Twitter’s response to this is rather interesting as they are calling it an easy method to verify NFTs:

This new feature provides a seamless, user-friendly way for people on Twitter to verify NFT ownership by allowing them to directly connect their crypto wallets to Twitter and select an NFT from their collection as their new profile picture. We’ll be monitoring feedback from people in Twitter Blue Labs and share additional updates as we have them.

If you’re an NFT owner who doesn’t own an iOS device or don’t have Twitter Blue subscription, a tool called Show My NFT will randomly update your profile picture on the platform from your collection.

While more people are purchasing, or trying to understand NFTs, the company’s rollout wasn’t ideal or inclusive by any means. It has to figure out many cultural and technical caveats to make this a more acceptable feature across the board.

Twitter’s not the only social network looking to link NFTs to profile pictures. As the Financial Times noted last week, Meta is working on features that will let users show off their NFTs through profile avatars on Facebook and Instagram. So this trend is not going away anytime soon — but here’s hoping it dies out faster than dalgona coffee.

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