No one can deny that NFTs as a concept are controversial. Many people consider them to be scams and the debate is always being had about whether or not they are valuable investments or worthless digital items to not be taken seriously.
Then there is the controversy that arises from specific NFTs and what they represent. Take for instance the newly-launched Gamestop marketplace that has taken down a controversial NFT. The asset in question was controversial because it made reference to the 9/11 tragedy and made headlines for being insensitive towards its victims and survivors.
The Controversial NFT
The NFT that was removed was called ‘Falling Man’ and was created by a user who goes by Jules. Its title is a reference to the famous image of a man falling from one of the twin towers during the tragedy. The NFT was uploaded to the platform shortly after its launch and featured the image of a falling astronaut with a caption that read ‘This one probably fell from the MIR station’.
Naturally, this NFT caused an uproar both within and outside of the Gamestop marketplace, with critics calling it insensitive and exploitative. Despite the obviously touchy subject of the NFT, it was successfully sold several times. The first sale took place on July 12, 2022, and over time, resales began bringing in hundreds of dollars, with the last two NFTs in the collections seeing bids of over $7,000.
But eventually, the controversy could not be ignored and as of now, the page for the ‘Falling Man’ has been removed from the site and while the creator’s other works are still live, there is nothing that makes reference to 9/11. Considering how new the Gamestop marketplace is, as well as the corporate issues leading up to its launch, having such a controversial piece listed does not do it any favours.
Over the last few months, in particular, there has been a lot more responsibility placed on NFT marketplaces to moderate the assets listed on them to some degree. With a landmark case finding an NFT marketplace liable for damages to an artist whose stolen work was listed on its platform, more and more of them are being cautious.
And in the case of the 9/11 NFT, the marketplace was not only protecting itself from backlash but ensuring some sensitivity to those affected by the tragedy.
This is not the first NFT that has caused controversy because of its subject matter and it will not be the last. We’ve seen NFTs of peoples’ souls being sold and even assets that allude to slavery in past make the news. These all show that NFTs are art mediums and like all art mediums, there is bound to be controversy.
All that is left is for NFT lovers to call out offensive NFTs when they are found and for NFT marketplaces to make sure that they do not inadvertently facilitate the sale of offensive assets.