AP cancels auction of overcrowded migrant boat NFT after outcry

The AP will not auction off the NFT of “migrants drifting in an overcrowded boat in the Mediterranean,” as it had planned to on Friday, after many complaints that the auction was a blatant attempt to profit from human suffering.

People really, really don’t like this AP monetization strategy. It also, imho, undermines the rationale for the legal protections granted to photojournalists capturing the likenesses of strangers without either obtaining their consent or sharing the proceeds with them. pic.twitter.com/pVAKQp4kOs

— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) February 24, 2022

The AP deleted the tweet sent at 2 PM on Thursday about the auction. “This was a poor choice of imagery for an NFT. It has not and will not be put up for auction,” Lauren Easton, AP’s director of media relations, told me in an email.

She added: “AP’s NFT marketplace is a very early pilot program, and we are immediately reviewing our efforts. As a not-for-profit, AP’s mission is to inform the world with accurate, unbiased journalism. That remains our primary focus.”

The AP launched its NFP photography marketplace at the end of January with the “white-label NFT marketplace” company Xoaa. “NFT price points will vary,” a press release noted at the time. “As a not-for-profit news cooperative, proceeds go back into funding factual, unbiased AP journalism.”

Two “commemorative NFTs” by Anja Niedringhaus — the German AP photojournalist who was killed in Afghanistan in 2014, and a 2007 Nieman Fellow — were auctioned off this week at 0.66 ETH, about $1789, each.

Here’s a good thread of AP staff reactions and questions about the NFT program in the AP’s official Discord.

Associated Press staff in the AP’s official Discord, following their tweet offering to sell NFTs of a video of migrants in a boat at sea:
“All photographers are consulted and are active participants in the project,” adds that it funds the AP’s journalism, photographer gets a cut. pic.twitter.com/kh1Q4Hw31I

— Tony Webster (@webster) February 25, 2022

Here’s the AP’s blockchain/NFT strategy director answering more questions on their public Discord chat about the AP’s offering of an NFT of a video of migrants in a boat at sea: pic.twitter.com/mi3z1GZ9m0

— Tony Webster (@webster) February 25, 2022

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