AP cancels the sale of the migrant boat NFT due to public outcry: ‘Profiting off suffering’

The news agency has subsequently removed the tweet touting the sale, citing 'poor imagery choice.'

After receiving anger online, the Associated Press has canceled plans to sell a video "showing refugees floating on an overloaded boat in the Mediterranean" as an NFT.
Pende culture, 1931, Diviner's Figure of Belgian colonial soldier Maximilien Balot.
Read more about A dispute over a loan of a Congolese monument has escalated into a judicial battle over NFTs.

The Associated Press's tweet promoting the video on Thursday, which came as Russia's incursion fueled worries of widespread relocation of Ukrainians, sparked allegations that the news organization was trying to profit from pain.

On Twitter, behavioral scientist Caroline Orr Bueno commented, "The Associated Press has removed a tweet promoting an NFT that definitely looked a whole lot like an attempt to make money from the situation of desperate migrants."

"This is so much beyond the limits of suitable," New Orleans news source Gambit editor John Stanton remarked.
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SI Rosenbaum, another journalist, wondered, "How did this get all the way to execution without a single reporter saying anything?"

The tweet has been removed, and the scheduled auction has been canceled. "For an NFT, this was a horrible choice of picture. It has not been, and will not be, auctioned. "The tweet advertising it was also removed," said Lauren Easton, the Associated Press' global head of media relations and corporate communications.

"AP's NFT marketplace is still a very early pilot program, and we're examining our efforts right now." The purpose of the Associated Press as a non-profit organization is to "inform the world with accurate, unbiased news."

The movie would be accessible the next day through the organization's new marketplace for NFTs – digital collectibles with a code that identifies them as one-of-a-kind – according to the article. The Associated Press unveiled the online marketplace in a press release last month, describing it as a location where people can "buy the news agency's award-winning current and historic photojournalism," including photographs of "space, climate, and conflict."

"AP's journalists have captured the world's greatest stories for 175 years, including through captivating and emotional photos that continue to resonate today," according to the press release. "A full collection of original metadata" will be provided to buyers, including "the time, date, location, equipment, and technical settings utilized for the photo."

The NFTs are being rolled out in stages. Prices for currently available pictures range from $219 to $1,799. According to the press release, the money would be donated to the AP's non-profit newsroom.

The transaction raises concerns about the usage of photojournalism outside of news stories. Photographers and news organizations are frequently faced with difficult decisions about the usage of photos of human misery. For example, Dorothea Lange's famous photograph Migrant Mother was created to depict her subject's Depression-era suffering. Florence Owens Thompson, on the other hand, later regarded the image as "exploiting" her, despite the fact that it did little to help her financially (and was sold at auction in 2002 for $141,500).

NFTs are escalating the conversation. Alternative revenue streams are critical for news organizations as they compete for advertising revenues with Google and Facebook. The New York Times, like the Guardian, has sold NFTs of its stories and sells some of its pictures through an online store.

However, the photographs offered tend to be of a lighter nature, such as the arts, music, and cityscapes. The same may be said about the other photographs in the NFT marketplace of the AP.

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