Over the weekend, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey put the first-ever tweet up for sale. So far, bidding has already reached $2.5 million.
To do this, Dorsey created a non-fungible token (NFT) representing the tweet on a platform called Valuables. The idea behind this is that you can create a digital token for each tweet, which can then be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
— jack (@jack) March 6, 2021
The Twitter CEO is not the only one who's been experimenting with NFTs and tweets; over the past few weeks, a growing number of people have been monetizing their old social media messages by turning them into cold hard crypto. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao sold his iconic ‘slap yourself’ tweet for $6,600 (which now has a resale offer of $121,000). And there’s a small bidding war for Coin Center spokesperson Neeraj Agrawal’s famous umbrella tweet (which made it onto national news).
But this service isn’t just for the rich and famous, nor for those with huge followings. Anyone on Twitter can sell any tweet that they created. And you can bid on any tweet ever made by anyone else. The Valuables site shows a stream of the latest bids, which start from as low as $1.
So if you want to see if someone will pay for any of your tweets, or you want to buy a specific tweet of your own, here’s a simple guide.
Step 1: Understand what’s going on
First things first, let’s get a good grasp on what it means to sell a tweet as an NFT.
The idea behind NFTs is that they represent digital ownership. Since pretty much everything digital can be copied as many times as you like, it’s very hard to have ownership over something online and transfer that ownership to someone else. NFTs are a way of assigning ownership to something digital in a way that can be transferred from person to person.
NFTs are still very experimental, however, so this should be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s unclear to what extent NFTs truly count as owning the thing that they represent. In this space, the evolution of the technology is outpacing the law’s ability to keep up.
On a technical level, with an NFT you are holding a small piece of code that points to an image, held somewhere on the Internet. So, in Valuable’s case, the NFT itself contains the text of the tweet (stored on the Matic blockchain) and it links to an image of the tweet, which is stored on a centralized server.
There are also concerns here that the system is not truly decentralized. This is important because decentralization provides security that you can keep the digital item for a long period of time. If the entity is centralized, then it’s possible you may lose your NFTs. (In this case, analysts have argued that Cent, which runs Valuables, has admin rights to the network and therefore holds centralized power over any NFTs held on it).
That said, buying and selling tweets can be a fun to experiment with, as long as you don’t risk more money than you can afford to lose.
Step 2: Set up a MetaMask wallet
Now we come to actually selling a tweet on Valuables.
MetaMask is a cryptocurrency wallet that lives in your Internet browser. In this case you need it to interact with Valuables and to store any cryptocurrency that you might receive as payment for your tweets.
You can download the MetaMask in-browser wallet from the official website. It’s best to use the official site rather than going through, for example, the Chrome extension store—where there are a number of fake MetaMask apps impersonating the real thing, that can steal your cryptocurrency.
Setting up MetaMask is fairly simple. All it’s doing is creating an Ethereum wallet for you. What you need to do is write down the seed phrase that it gives you (a list of words) and make sure to put them in a safe place. If you somehow lose access to your wallet, you’ll need those words to recover your wallet and access your funds.
Once MetaMask is set up you can access it by clicking on the icon in your browser. Enter your password to open the wallet. Once inside, you can use it to send Ethereum and Ethereum-based tokens to other addresses, as well as receive funds to that account. If you ever want to sell the cryptocurrency for cash, you would need to withdraw those funds to an exchange and swap them for your currency of choice.
Step 3: Get started with Valuables
Now that you have MetaMask installed, it’s very easy to get set up with Valuables; simply head to the Valuables website and log in with MetaMask, which will connect the site with your Ethereum wallet. You'll also need to sign in with Twitter so that it can access your account.
There’s actually very little to do from here. Valuables is set up so that anyone can bid on any tweet they like. This means that once you’ve connected your wallet and your Twitter account, all your tweets are automatically put up for sale (people can bid on them, although you are not obliged to accept any bids).
If you go to your profile on Valuables, you can see any bids that have been made on any of your tweets. It’s likely (unless you’re Elon Musk) that there won’t be any bids there. Nevermind; the key thing here is making people aware that your tweets are for sale.
What you want to do is go and find an interesting tweet of yours (perhaps the one you did that went surprisingly viral) and copy the link to that tweet. You can get the link by clicking the Share button, then “Copy Link to Tweet” or by copying the URL at the top of your screen.
Then, paste the link to your tweet in the search bar on the Valuables website. If you’ve put in your own tweet it will recognize this and identify that it’s yours. It will then give you a button that enables you to share the link to that tweet on Valuables.
If you click the share button, it comes up with a draft tweet with the Valuables link. You can then copy that link and share it on Twitter. Anyone who clicks the link will be directed to the page where they can bid on your tweet. When a bid is high enough you can choose to accept it and you’ll receive that money in your MetaMask wallet.
Guess it can pay to tweet, after all.