Associated Press Cancels NFT Sale of Migrant Boat Footage Amid Backlash

The news agency has cancelled the sale of an NFT depicting a migrant boat after facing backlash.
Image source: Felipe Dana/AP

Quick take:

  • Associated Press has deleted the tweet promoting the NFT.
  • The media outlet has been accused of profiting from the suffering of migrants.
  • This comes amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has stoked tense emotions worldwide.

The Associated Press (AP) has cancelled plans to sell a video NFT depicting migrants drifting on a boat in the Mediterranean sea after facing backlash online.

The news outlet advertised the NFT on Twitter on Thursday, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has stoked tense emotions worldwide. The tweet reached an audience of 227,000 before it was deleted.

“What the fuck is wrong with @AP this is so far beyond the bounds of appropriate,” tweeted John Stanton, editor of the New Orleans news outlet Gambit.

Journalist S.I. Rosenbaum asked: “How did this get all the way to execute without a single journo saying something”.

AP has been accused of profiting off the suffering of migrants and has since deleted the tweet promoting the NFT which was supposed to drop at noon EST today.

“This was a poor choice of imagery for an NFT. It has not and will not be put up for auction,” said Lauren Easton, the global director of media relations and corporate communications at the Associated Press.

Easton added that “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.”

On 11 Jan, AP announced that it would be launching its most gripping images on its NFT marketplace. However, this incident called into question the use of photojournalism beyond a news story, especially when the proceeds of the sale of a photo do not financially aid the subjects being captured.

In a press release accompanying the announcement of the marketplace, AP said that users can  “purchase the news agency’s award-winning contemporary and historic photojournalism”, including images of “space, climate [and] war” on the platform.

“For 175 years AP’s journalists have recorded the world’s biggest stories, including through gripping and poignant images that continue to resonate today,” said Dwayne Desaulniers, AP director of blockchain and data licensing.

The press release states that the initial collection will be released over a period of weeks beginning Jan. 31, ranging from prices of $219 to $1,799. Proceeds will go back to the AP newsroom.

AP is not the only news outlet to sell NFTs. The New York Times, CNN and the Guardian have either sold copies of articles as NFTs or some of its photography on their respective online stores, albeit focusing on lighter topics like art, music and cityscapes.

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