[News] Discord dumps NFT plans after protests
Last week Discord co-founder and CEO Jason Citron tweeted an intriguing message that shook up the crypto and Discord communities. After his tweet, which included a mockup of crypto wallet MetaMask integration into Discord, many worried he was considering partnering with MetaMask to integrate crypto wallets in his software.
The tweet set off a panic among Discord users, many of whom believed the partnership was imminent, as the message “probably nothing,” among NFT enthusiasts typically means the exact opposite.
While one tweet may not be sufficient evidence in itself of a pending change to the Discord platform, ArsTechnica pointed out that because Discord had surveyed users about their opinions concerning NFTs and other emerging technologies, the idea of incorporating NFTs into Discord was already on many people’s radar.
Why the outrage? To make sense of things, it’s important to understand a little about Discord and its user base.
Discord is free-to-use software with 350 million users. It allows for the creation of private communities with the capabilities of text messaging, video and voice calling, and file sharing. The software runs on all major computer and mobile platforms and can also be accessed via a web browser. As Quartz described it: “Picture a combination of Slack, AOL Instant Messenger, Zoom, and a sketchy chat room, and you have something approximating Discord.”
When it launched in 2015, it was intended as a communication tool for gamers. Although it was adopted by other users as a way to stay in touch during the pandemic, according to Packy McCormick of the ‘Not Boring’ Substack, Discord was created as an “always-on conference call” for game enthusiasts, or “your own private cafe for games.”
Meanwhile, many gamers have been skeptical about NFTs. Some challenge plans to incorporate NFTs within video games, while others dispute the underlying concept of NFTs. In what represents the position of some gamers, HypeBeast quoted a user who claimed that Discord is “encouraging pyramid schemes at the grand cost of the environment.” Furthermore, a TechCrunch article described how some Discord users fear an invasion of so-called “NFT bros” and worry that integrating crypto wallets would lead to an increase in crypto scams on the platform.
Citron’s tweet, therefore, served as a canary in a coal mine moment. Worried of imminent corruption of the platform they had grown to count on, many users campaigned for fellow games to dump Discord’s paid “Nitro” service or to abandon the platform altogether.
Things were so bad that on November 10th, just two days later, Citron had to backtrack, tweeting,
Thanks for all the perspectives everyone. We have no current plans to ship this internal concept. For now we’re focused on protecting users from spam, scams and fraud. Web3 has lots of good but also lots of problems we need to work through at our scale. More soon.
We may never know whether or not Discord had truly intended to integrate crypto wallets into the platform. What does appear certain is that Discord users know what they like and don’t like, and won’t be afraid to make their opinions known to the company’s leadership.
In other news
- Russian missile blast sparks space panic. The Verge reports Russia has destroyed one of its own satellites with a ground-fired missile known as an ASAT test, putting the International Space Station at risk. NASA worries that debris from the destroyed satellite endangers the ISS, which passes through the debris field every 90 minutes. Initially, NASA astronauts waited out the crisis in their Crew Dragon spacecraft, while Russian cosmonauts sheltered in their Soyuz capsule, in case damage to the ISS required the astronauts to return to Earth.
With seven people living on the ISS (including two Russian cosmonauts), some say it’s surprising Russia would put anyone at risk. Some commentators say Russia’s actions threaten a space war because the risk to the safety of all on the ISS from debris collision is well known. US State Department spokesperson Ned Price described Russia’s actions as “dangerous and irresponsible … jeopardizing the long-term sustainability of outer space,” and a possible act of “weaponization.”
- Robinhood hacked. TechCrunch reports the popular online investment trading platform was hacked last week. Hackers obtained more than five million customer email addresses and two million customer names after a social engineering-style attack on a Robinhood customer service representative. Social engineering attack styles can be in person or on the phone, and in this case, the hacker phoned customer service. After the company learned of the breach and secured its systems, the hacker demanded payment for the return of the information. Rather than comply, Robinhood instead contacted law enforcement to report the extortion demands. Security firm Mandiant will probe the breach and recommend improvements to security protocols for the platform.
- E.coli puzzle solvers. Most of us are familiar with E.coli bacteria, an incredibly commonplace microbe that can be found everywhere, even living inside our guts. E.coli usually hits the news when it causes illness if mishandled by someone within the food chain. In this case, the bacteria has demonstrated its ability to solve classic computational mazes. MIT’s Technology Review team reports these maze experiments utilize a process called distributed computing. Genetically-engineered E.coli cells can find their way through 16 possible maze outcomes, correctly. Scientists hope complex problem-solving on a larger scale might be possible, with the load spread out to biological systems. One day, researchers hope programmable cells could calculate problems as easily as computers.
- Police drone footage leaked. Who could forget the footage leaked by the New York police department in 2004 showing a couple enjoying, err… themselves, on a penthouse rooftop? Back then, a storm erupted about privacy and the potential of helicopter surveillance technology. Fast forward to 2021 and this time it’s the Dallas police department in Texas, and a 1.8 TB data leak from an outfit called Distributed Denial of Secrets, or DDoSecrets. Wired has the story about this hacktivist group working to ‘expose’ how surveillance by drones is more revealing than ever — mainly due to improved camera technology. The group has leaked footage taken by helicopters and drone cameras operating during the day and at night to make citizens aware of the accuracy now possible from these devices, which can even enter homes in the case of drones. The footage reveals everything from vistas high overhead to cars lined up at a McDonald’s drive-through, to clear and precise footage of individuals standing in their yards or on local streets.
- Musk he? For those who love a bit of peace and quiet while charging their electric vehicle for a couple of hours, Endgadget reports Elon Musk is the first to bring you entertainment in the form of broadband internet. The Tesla entrepreneur, who recently launched his own Starlink satellite network, will link free Internet to charging stations in order to make charging time more pleasant and to facilitate wireless transactions.
Gizmodo also has a short item noting Musk’s electricity business launching in Texas, beginning with an offer to Tesla customers. This move would allow electricity consumers to bypass the traditional route of buying from a power company, something that might prove popular in the Lone Star state after the grid collapse in the middle of an ice storm last February. The idea is to combine the Tesla car, Tesla solar panels, and Tesla charging stations as a virtual electricity company that can power your home and your car. Tesla Energy Ventures has a small foothold in South Australia and California, with existing Tesla car owners as electricity customers.
- Apple reverses itself on repairs. In a stunning about-face, Apple will soon make it a little easier to repair your iPhones, MacBook Pros, and other Apple products. As reported in Wired, beginning in early 2022, Apple customers in the US (and elsewhere later in the year) will be able to access manuals for iPhones, followed by computers with the M1 chips. The company will also create a Self Service Repair store where specialized tools and replacement parts — such as replacement screens and batteries — can be purchased. This reverses a long-standing (and hard-fought) refusal by the company to allow unlicensed repairs to Apple devices. Businesses have been able to become licensed repair shops for some time, but this announcement opens the door to anyone with tech know-how. Environmentalists and Apple enthusiasts hailed this decision, which will build more longevity into devices and open up additional, and potentially more affordable, options when something goes wrong.
Tip of the week
Considering a move soon? Be sure to check internet speeds in your new neighborhood. In a survey cited by BBC News, 20% of new home buyers said broadband quality was the single most crucial factor in their decision, which makes sense since poor WiFi can affect your recreational time as well as work done at home. Until apps like Zillow get the hint and add internet speed ratings to listings, you must do some old-fashioned detective work.
Before you move, look at the offerings from local internet service providers. Do they offer the speeds you need in the neighborhood you’re considering? When you tour a residence that is still occupied, ask for the WiFi password and do a speed test on your phone. If the place is empty, ask your prospective neighbors about any broadband issues they may have. And to be on the safe side, check those bars to make sure your mobile data signal is strong, too.