Facebook and Instagram, the social media giants owned by Meta, have announced that they will be pulling the plug on digital collectibles or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) from April 11, 2023.
In a statement, Instagram revealed that it will begin deleting digital collection data in its system, including wallet addresses, and will no longer be connected or associated with third-party digital wallets.
This announcement has sent shockwaves through the digital art world and has left artists and investors scrambling to find alternatives to showcase and trade their NFTs.
Facebook and Instagram’s NFT Integration Winding Down
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has been “winding down” its work with NFTs on Facebook and Instagram, according to Stephane Kasriel, Meta commerce and fintech lead.
In a recent Twitter thread, Kasriel revealed that Meta will be ending its tests of minting and selling NFTs on Instagram, as well as the ability to share NFTs on Instagram and Facebook in the coming weeks.
Instead, the company will focus on areas where it can make an impact at scale, such as messaging and monetization on Reels and on improving Meta Pay.
Instagram first started testing its NFT features with select creators in May 2022. However, most users only got their first real taste of the platform’s NFT integrations in August of the same year when the company enabled the features for users in 100 countries worldwide.
Despite this, the core NFT functionalities had yet to be added, namely the ability for users to mint, buy and sell NFTs with one another.
It wasn’t until November 2022 that Instagram allowed a handful of creators to start selling NFTs on the platform. The artists who were selected were hopeful, believing that the move would lead to a new and more equitable creator economy.
However, the announcement that Facebook and Instagram are discontinuing NFTs has left many creators stunned, especially since the features were only recently rolled out.
As part of the wind-down, Facebook and Instagram will no longer maintain a connection or associate users’ accounts with third-party digital wallets.
Users will no longer be able to create new digital collectible posts on Instagram, and any collectibles shared will remain as posts without any shimmer effect or blockchain information. Collectible posts that are only viewable in the digital collectible tab of users’ profiles will be moved to their archives.
Users will also no longer be able to view their digital collectibles in the associated tab or manage their third-party digital wallet connection settings.
Furthermore, users will no longer be able to access or download information related to collectibles. Facebook and Instagram will begin to delete digital collectible data in their systems, including users’ wallet addresses.
Possible reasons behind the decision
The decision to stop supporting NFTs comes as Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, aims to make 2023 the “year of efficiency” and streamline the company’s focus.
Meta has also had setbacks with its Meta-backed cryptocurrency Diem and its Novi digital wallet, both of which were shut down in 2022. Despite Meta’s withdrawal from NFTs, other companies such as Reddit, Starbucks, and Sesame Street have announced new NFT collaborations.
Representatives from Meta have not shared any more information about the reasoning behind the decision beyond what Kasriel offered in his tweets.
The company has also not released any information about precisely when the features would be disabled. In the meantime, Facebook and Instagram are looking to prioritize other areas that support creators, people, and businesses.