Kids these days seem to think cryptographic data-ownership is all fun and games. I’m here to burst their bubble: NFTs, like any street data, are vulnerable to tampering by bad actors operating in an unregulated marketplace.
To see what I mean, look no further than the arrest of local NFT-dealer Arman Doley. The arrest warrant was issued after trace amounts of fungible pixel was found in NFTs sold by Doley. He allegedly inserted JPEG pixels into NFTs before their sale, violating the core ethic of blockchain-mandated nonfungibility: that each pixel of the NFT belong to its owner as a rifle belongs to its Marine.
“This is my JPG. There are many like it, but this one is mine.” —NFT owner Mitt Romney
Marvin Jeremy, a 19-year-old software developer, purchased an NFT image of a doorknob to celebrate his recent promotion to associate developer. Thinking the NFT was pure, Jeremy began owning and viewing the token with impunity. The resulting high ended when he discovered that 15% of the pixels contained in the image were from a similar doorknob photo that Doley found in an online real-estate listing. Those few-hundred pixels were never truly owned by Jeremy, and by the time he discovered the irregularity, it was much too late.
The tampered NFT purchased by Jeremy. Looking closely reveals the superimposed pixels, distinguishable by its slight difference in color.
Make no mistake, Gen Z’ers – what seems like a harmless way to have fun may actually have severe consequences. Spending exorbitant amounts of money on image macros isn’t always the carefree digital joyride promised by the blockchain community. Purchases depend on trust, and trust is not always honored by those to whom we extend it. Tread lightly, lest you wind up the owner of an image made worthless by one mischievous salesman spending 5 minutes in photoshop.