NatGeo faces backlash, technical issues on first NFT launch

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National Geographic’s debut in the NFT market has received widespread criticism and technical issues.

The monthly magazine posted a social media explainer about the technology and showcased a Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

National Geographic initially designed the social media explainers to prepare its audience for the NFT drop on Polygon. Planned to release on Thursday, the NFT will feature works from 16 different photographers, including Justin Aversano, Reuben Wu, Cath Simard and John Knopf.

The post faced an overwhelmingly negative response from its social media audience when it mentioned NFTs. The comments flooded in, labeling NFTs as a “bubble,” “bullshit” and an “extinct species.” Some even accused NFTs of being a means to launder money.

Split views on NFTs

Among the negative responses, several people urged National Geographic to delete the explainer post. Some users denounced NFTs as a scam, even though people, not the technology itself, create NFT phishing scams and “rug pulls.”

The conversation about NFTs even drew a response from the acclaimed photographer Ansel Adams’ account manager, who replied with a simple “Nope” to National Geographic’s Instagram post.

This type of backlash against NFTs is not new. Global streaming platform Netflix also experienced a similar fallout last year when it created free NFTs to promote the latest season of “Stranger Things.” The video game industry has also faced consistent backlash from gaming publications and gamers who despise NFTs.

The general public still appears to maintain a negative perception of NFTs, as the Ethereum Merge executed in September 2022 did not lessen concerns about their environmental impact. Although the Ethereum Foundation reports a 99.998 percent reduction in ETH’s energy consumption, people skeptical of NFTs still need to be convinced.

Despite the criticism, National Geographic, which boasts over 256 million followers on Instagram, 49 million on Facebook and more than 28.6 million on Twitter, received over 100,000 likes for its Instagram post about NFTs.

Although there was a significant backlash, it is worth noting that National Geographic launched its NFTs during a period of low NFT trading volume. Last month, OpenSea saw a total NFT volume of only $15.39 million traded on Polygon, an 80.5 percent drop from its peak of approximately $79.45 million a year ago.

In contrast to the number of negative comments on Instagram and Facebook, a few NFT artists joined in, claiming that most commenters lacked knowledge about NFTs.

Ryan Hawthorne, an artist who has released Ethereum NFTs with auction house Sotheby’s, wrote, “Welcome to the comment section, here you’ll witness a sea of people hating on what they don’t understand in their natural habitat.”

Betty, the pseudonymous co-founder of the Ethereum NFT project Deadfellaz, expressed disappointment that many commenters needed to take the time to learn about the useful applications and problems that the technology can solve.

Minting problem

Disapproval aside, the launch of National Geographic’s NFTs on Polygon has been filled by technical issues and poor execution, which has caused frustration among potential buyers.

According to reports, the NFT mint has been facing ongoing technical difficulties. More than 13 Twitter users have highlighted their concerns with the mint site.

Decrypt, a media platform covering cryptocurrency and blockchain, found that it could not connect a wallet to the mint site and complete transactions, even 30 minutes after the mint’s schedule to go live.

In addition to technical problems, the launch also faced complaints over poor communication and execution. Some potential buyers have expressed frustration with Snowcrash, which had called itself a “premier NFT trading platform,” for failing to deliver a smooth and seamless minting process.

National Geographic’s social media posts about the launch also receive criticism for not providing clear instructions on how to participate and for using an overly promotional tone.


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