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Meta Platforms, Inc. (FB) is testing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on Instagram, an initial application being “digital collectibles,” as announced on May 10, 2022. These collectibles include art, images, videos, music, and trading cards. The initial test involves a small select group of U.S.-based creators and collectors, allowing them to share NFTs that they have created or bought.

The longer-term financial implications of this initiative for Meta are unclear at this point. Indeed, the company states that there will be no fees associated with posting or sharing a digital collectible on Instagram. However, there is a potential public relations benefit for Meta and Instagram, positioning the company as a patron of the arts by giving “creators” new tools to earn income. Also, Meta indicates that this test could “bring NFTs to a broader audience.”

Key Takeaways

  • Instagram is testing a new application called “Digital Collectibles” that utilizes non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
  • These collectibles include art, images, videos, music, and trading cards.
  • A stated goal is to “bring NFTs to a broader audience.”
  • “Similar functionality” is coming to Facebook.

The Digital Collectibles Test

In the test, a small group of U.S.-based Instagram users will have the ability to display NFTs on their feed, stories, and in messages. NFT details are displayed in a similar way to tagged profiles and products and are named “digital collectibles.” Clicking on the tag will display details such as the name of the creator and owner. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg indicates that “similar functionality” is coming soon to Facebook.

Adam Mosseri, who heads Instagram, stated: “I want to acknowledge upfront that NFTs and blockchain technologies and Web3 more broadly are all about distributing trust, distributing power. But Instagram is fundamentally a centralized platform, so there’s a tension there.”

Mosseri indicated that the test is small to start so that Instagram can learn from its user community. Also, as his statement reveals, he recognizes that users may not fully trust large social media platforms like Instagram, given the decentralized ethos of Web3.

Key Functions Behind Digital Collectibles

Instagram indicates that the new digital collectibles feature has three key background functions supporting it. These are:

Connecting a digital wallet. Once connected, creators and collectors can select which NFTs from their wallet to share on Instagram.

Sharing digital collectibles. Once a creator or collector posts a digital collectible, it will have a shimmer effect and can display public information, such as a description of the NFT. Posts will also be visible on their profile.

Automatic tagging of both the creator and collector. The creator and collector can be automatically attributed in the digital collectible post, subject to their respective privacy settings.

Instagram will collect and organize public data from open blockchains, such as Ethereum. Identifying which collectibles belong to which collectors and creators requires them to connect their third-party wallets to Instagram. Initially, the blockchains that will be supported are Ethereum and Polygon, with Flow and Solana coming soon. The third-party wallets compatible for use will include Rainbow, MetaMask, and Trust Wallet, with Coinbase, Dapper, and Phantom coming soon.

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