Meta wants to make Instagram users suffer with NFT features soon - but why?

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(Image credit: Instagram)

It's been confirmed that Instagram will be featuring the ability to buy and mine an NFT soon, in Meta's further attempt to stifle innovation and force crypto-currency to unsuspecting users.

According to Engadget, the head of Meta, Mark Zuckerburg, confirmed during a talk at SXSW that the company was looking into features that would enable you to mine NFTs on Instagram, completely missing the point of what the social platform is for.

While I could fill this article with nothing but the word 'Why' repeated across four paragraphs, I wanted to express my distaste of NFTs (Non-Fungible Token) and how they have no place on social media platforms.

We've already seen bizarre decisions from Twitter in previous weeks, and it looks as though Meta is also drinking the same water if it thinks that NFTs are a good idea for Instagram. We're so early in this technology, here's why I think that it shouldn't be considered as a feature for at least five years, giving tokens the time to mature to a point that they can help, rather than hinder.

Non-fungible sense

If you've seen the term NFT be bandied around, they are non-fungible tokens that take an image that will have a unique code of numbers attached to it. This code will be exclusive to you, and this means that you'll be able to sell or trade that unique code as you wish.

This is what Meta is planning for Instagram, as a way of extending the shopping experience that you can already do on the app. But already it feels lazy.

At the event, Zuckerberg spoke of Instagram and NFTs but wasn't prepared to give a date of when the feature would land. "I'm not ready to kind of announce exactly what that's going to be today," Zuckerberg clarified. "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.”

The environment is an ironic word to use here, due to the fact that mining NFTs have already proven to be a detriment to the electrical grid that we use every day.

According to Investopedia, minting one NFT is the equivalent of using the same amount of electricity as an average American household for around nine days. We've already seen the pushback from so many users to companies that have been advertising NFTs for their brands and products, only to quickly roll back their commitment. Team17 was an unfortunate example of this in the gaming industry, and already we're seeing a dip in NFT popularity amongst mainstream users.

But deciding to attach NFT to Instagram feels half-baked already. Just because it's a social platform that deals in photos, automatically means that NFTs are a natural fit for Instagram.

Banjo Kazooie

(Image credit: Rare / Nintendo)

But these tokens are already expanding to other avenues. Seeing the term 'play to earn' with NFT has been making me uncomfortable. I've started to see it on ads in between YouTube videos I'd watch at the weekend, and instantly go to the 'report ad' button.

Looking beyond the behemoth that the gaming industry has become, games are there to be enjoyed, to be used as a form of escape. It's spawned careers and dreams for so many people, but not once have you played a level of Banjo Kazooie and thought, 'Maybe Gruntilda can pay for my phone bill this month through an NFT?'

The same applies to social media apps. During the early days of MSN Messenger, MySpace and Bebo, you would keep in touch with friends and family, perhaps even carrying on any conversations you've had with them from earlier that day.

Having NFTs in social media apps is a distraction and gets away from why you use these platforms in the first place. Let's also consider the users who only reach for Instagram and other apps occasionally, and who wouldn't be interested in NFTs at all. It feels pointless and unnecessary in the long term, not just for users, but for Meta as well.

But for me, NFTs are bad for everyone in 2022. There may be a time where the fourth or fifth generation of this technology will be a benefit. Perhaps these next- next-next-generation of NFTs toward the end of the decade will also help the environment instead of damage it.

But as it stands, they're a wasteful use of time and resources. In an era where Meta is trying to save face while enduring a multitude of controversies, from Cambridge Analytica to dealing with hate speech across its platforms of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, perhaps the company should focus on those issues first, rather than trying to chase an innovation that's already looking like a fool's errand.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.