Twitter’s new hexagonal NFT profile pics were supposed to put right-click savers in their place.
The feature, announced Thursday, gives Twitter Blue subscribers the ability to designate their profile pictures as official NFTs — thus, in theory, irrefutably “proving” their JPEGs are authentic pieces like CryptoPunks or Bored Apes at a glance. It’s the ultimate online flex in our status-obsessed digital age. It’s also, unfortunately for NFT enthusiasts, extremely easy to fake.
Approximately 24 hours after Twitter announced the new hexagonal NFT profile pic feature, I was able to get a CryptoPunk look-alike NFT as my official Twitter profile picture — hexagonal and all.
The process was relatively straightforward. It required taking an image (in this case some pixel art styled after CryptoPunks that I made in MS Paint), uploading it to the NFT marketplace Rarible, and minting it onto the Ethereum blockchain by sending it to a cryptocurrency wallet I control. Then, I simply had to link the NFT to my Twitter account.
Credit: Screenshot: Rarible
While this pixelated image is merely in the style of CryptoPunks, there would be nothing to stop someone from right-click saving official Bored Apes or CryptoPunks and doing the same thing.
In other words, as the above Twitter profile with a fake “CryptoPunk” shows, those hexagonal profile pics Twitter so proudly rolled out Thursday don’t really mean much of anything at all.
NFT owners insist they’re totally not owned by ‘right-click savers’
And, if Twitter’s plan to integrate blockchains beyond Ethereum — a plan confirmed by a Twitter spokesperson Thursday — goes ahead, those hexagonal NFT profile pics will mean even less for the NFT-status obsessed.
That’s because presently, due to Ethereum gas fees, the cost of minting an NFT to the Ethereum blockchain on a marketplace like Rarible, costs anywhere from $100 to $200 worth of ether. However if Twitter goes ahead and integrates other popular blockchains, like Tezos or Polygon, it will bring that cost down to pennies — a price right-click savers will happily pay to screw with Bored Apes or other NFT diehards.
We already know that people will steal digital art, mint it as NFTs, and try to pass it off as originals for profit. It’s an issue bedeviling artists, and one that shows no signs of abating. Now Twitter seemingly made a similar tactic available to trolls.
Of course, Twitter could choose to prevent ripped-off NFTs from displaying in users’ profile pictures. That would, however, require censorship from a centralized party (something anathema to the entire premise of the blockchain).
And Twitter seems like it has zero interest in gatekeeping. A company spokesperson explained over email that Twitter has no desire to limit what NFT collections can and can’t be shown, and that the new feature gives users a way to click through profile pictures to determine the associated smart contract address. In Twitter’s mind, the responsibility of determining whether a hexagonal NFT profile picture is authentic or right-click saved falls squarely in the hands of the company’s users. Which, frankly, kind of undermines the entire premise of making profile pictures different at a glance.
That someone might mint copy-pasted JPEGs and then use those JPEGs as their Twitter profile pic is a real fear for those who’ve invested, both financially and often emotionally, in the promise of NFTs.
“There’s actually a MAJOR PROBLEM with the new Twitter PFP feature,” wrote one Bored Ape owner. “It appears to work for ANY NFT in your collection. Not just verified collections. That means someone can just right-click-save any NFT, mint it, and then use it as their PFP”
That fear is now a reality, as our own CryptoPunk-style hexagonal Twitter profile pic proves.
Twitter’s new NFT profile pic feature was supposed to mean that when users saw an account with a hexagonal profile picture, they could be sure that account owned the associated NFT.
Instead, it appears to have accidentally demonstrated something else entirely about the true value of non-fungible tokens.