News, OpenSea’s NFT Platform Is Rife with Racist Content: detailed suggestions and opinions about OpenSea’s NFT Platform Is Rife with Racist Content.
When challenged on selling hate, staff allegedly likened their company to the Holocaust Museum.
When the NFT trading platform OpenSea agreed to meet with representatives from Color of Change, staffers at the civil rights advocacy group assumed that meant that the largest and most prominent business in the space would be receptive to suggestions on making their business more inclusive.
Before their first video conference in April, Color of Change had found, through a series of quick searches, that OpenSea was facilitating and profiting from the sale of a slew of indefensibly racist and antisemitic collections of NFTs. (Non-Fungible Tokens are commodities based on crypto blockchains that usually signify ownership of digital art, videos, or photos.)
When questioned about those tokens in a series of three meetings that unfolded into September, OpenSea product and communication staffers defended their presence as a matter of not stifling users’ expression and creativity. Participants in the meetings from OpenSea, according to the Color of Change representatives, falsely claimed the inability to police their site, compared their platform to the Holocaust Museum, and ultimately defended leaving up NFTs that used the n-word, depicted Black people as racist caricatures, and that featured antisemitic, pro-Nazi content.
OpenSea is far and above the most well-known and used NFT trading platform; it has accrued over 1 million users, who have traded billions of dollars worth of NFTs. One 2022 survey found that a quarter of Black Americans own crypto—only 15 percent of whites do—and Color of Change set up the meetings as part of an effort to make the space more hospitable for people of color.
OpenSea’s response tracks with a broader hesitation to grapple with racial issues in Web 3, as the ostensibly decentralized apps and communities around crypto are collectively known. The heavily white, male community of Web 3 founders and developers who built a libertarian dream have sometimes been resistant to adjust to the reality of society’s persistent inequities. In 2020, in the wake of demonstrations over George Floyd’s murder, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong announced a controversial policy barring employees from debating “causes or political candidates internally that are unrelated to work.” A year later, his company quietly pulled language from its prohibited uses policy that explicitly barred users from using the crypto platform to “encourage hate” and “racial intolerance.”
Color of Change staff said that the meetings took place with senior members and vice presidents from OpenSea’s product and communications teams, including its head of product, the head of communications, and its director of content and moderation policy. An OpenSea spokesperson declined to make anyone from their staff who attended the meetings available for an interview, and contested elements of Color of Change’s account. They also pointed to a company policy that bars users from using OpenSea to “attack” protected groups and allows the company to delist or freeze tokens that include hate symbols or could cause “real-world” harm.
Despite that policy, the platform remains rife with NFTs featuring racist depictions of black people, slurs, and antisemitic or pro-Nazi sentiment. “If you go onto OpenSea, you can search ‘Hitler,’ racial slurs, and see all sorts of racist and bigoted content,” says Kyle Bibby, a senior campaign director at the organization who was briefed on the meetings by colleagues. “There’s not an attempt by OpenSea to keep these things off the platform.”