Secure messaging app Signal’s founder Moxie Marlinspike is trolling a bit by releasing an NFT that shows up differently depending on what platform you’re watching it on – and will reportedly show up as a poo emoji in your wallet when you actually buy it.
He appears to be doing this to point out the potential vulnerability of NFTs, which are believed to act as some sort of permanent proof of ownership of a work of art or media. They are unique digital tokens that are stored on the blockchain, but in most cases it is really just the record that lives in the chain – the image is stored somewhere else. That means people handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars for them could be at the mercy of image hosts that operate independently of the blockchain.
I created an NFT, but the image appears differently based on who is looking at it.
For example on OpenSea: https://t.co/XI0hSerW5y
…vs on Rarible: https://t.co/gQTH4tcR9k
…vs if you own it, it currently displays as a large emoji in your wallet. How this works:
— Moxie Marlinspike (@moxie) October 12, 2021
It’s no secret that many NFTs would be at risk if the servers they host went down. For the most part, they are not stored on the blockchain; the art is just a link. According to Marlinspike, that’s how he manages this – he created the image differently based on the IP address or user agent requesting it.
It should probably come as no surprise that someone named Moxie Marlinspike is no stranger to trolls and IRL antics. There are stories of him buying and crashing a hot air balloon or using a photo of himself wearing an asparagus-shaped hat as his profile at a very serious conference. And who can forget the Instagram ads Signal tried to run which showed what the Facebook ad profile thinks about you.
Marlinspike is also no stranger to having off the beaten track political views that have led to him being labeled an anarchist (we asked him years ago if that label was right, and he said it was complicated); he is heavy argued against law enforcement and said their job should be hard.
What I’m referring to is that it’s not surprising that he makes jokes about NFTs and how they work. However, it’s a little odd that he seems confused about why people would bid on an NFT that turns into a poo emoji. I mean, have you seen some of the NFTs people buy?? A $400 bid for a shifting NFT seems perfectly credible at this point.