A Thursday morning tweet from the Associated Press promoting an NFT of a video of an overcrowded ship of migrants in the Mediterranean drew sharp criticism for its insensitivity.
Twitter users called it “beyond the bounds of appropriate” and “pitiful and vile” and lobbed comments including, “monetizing human suffering is grotesque.” The tweet was up for several hours.
A rep for AP issued this statement to TheWrap late Thursday: “This was a poor choice of imagery for an NFT. It has not and will not be put up for auction. The tweet promoting it was also deleted. 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’s NFT marketplace launched in January. According to their press release at the time, “as a not-for-profit news cooperative, proceeds go back into funding factual, unbiased AP journalism.” One of the first NFTs offered was a 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of a Jewish settler challenging Israeli security officers in the West Bank, by Oded Balilty.
The video was shot by AP photographer Felipe Dana, who did not immediately reply to TheWrap’s request for comment. On his Instagram page, he tagged the Spanish ocean rescue group Proactiva Open Arms (POA), who shared their own video of their crew heading out to the rescue. But turning a moment that seemed to be more about suffering than hope into a marketable item did not sit well online.