Fact check: New York Times headline on non fungible tokens, ‘low-income men’ is fake

By November 22, 2021NFT
Click here to view original web page at www.usatoday.com

The claim: An image shows a New York Times article about how NFTs are the top expense for low-income men in 2021

Social media users are circulating a screenshot of what appears to be a New York Times article making a surprising claim about non fungible tokens.

"NFTs Are the Top Expense for Low-Income Men in 2021," reads the purported headline in a screenshot shared to Instagram on Nov. 2.

Below the headline, a subhead reads, "Early tax reporting shows 68% of men making under 23K spent most of their money on NFTs this year."

An NFT is a unique piece of data that verifies ownership of a digital item. NFTs "have exploded in popularity" as more people are looking to spend money on digital assets, according to Reuters.

The Instagram post generated more than 8,000 likes in less than two weeks. But the headline in the post is fake.

The Times did not write or publish that headline, according to spokespeople of the company.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the post for comment.

NFT story is a fabrication

The Times did not publish the headline in the screenshot, according to Jordan Cohen, executive director of communications at the newspaper.

Daniella Rhoades Ha, vice president of communications, told USA TODAY the Times also did not publish a story resembling the one shown in the image.

The image identifies the purported article as coming from The Shift, a column by Kevin Roose, who examines "the intersection of technology, business and culture" at the Times.

However, The Shift has not published such an article.

The claim in the subhead, which says early tax reporting shows low-income men spent most of their money on NFTs in 2021, is also wrong. The IRS said it doesn't report such information.

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"We don’t publish any statistics on NFTs," Eric Smith, a spokesperson for the agency, told USA TODAY via email. "We don’t have a category for that."

What is an NFT?

An NFT is a piece of data that verifies ownership of a digital item, such as artwork. It refers to a cryptocurrency unit, much like a bitcoin, but one that is unique – as in, there is only one of that unit.

That's why it is "non fungible," according to Christopher Wilmer, an associate professor of engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

The concept of NFTs has been around for more than eight years, but its popularity exploded within the past two, according to Wilmer. Part of the allure has to do with the fact that NFTs can be used to "get a record" of something, he said.

"If you wanted to buy a painting ... even one that only exists digitally, but in a way where you could prove ownership of it without relying on a third-party institution, you would want to get an NFT as a record of that purchase," Wilmer told USA TODAY via email.

NFTs exist on a blockchain, a database that can be used to keep track of information, Wilmer said.

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People can see who owns an NFT on a blockchain, according to Reuters, and an NFT can be bought "with cryptocurrencies or in dollars." Digital images have become the most popular type of NFT sold.

Our rating: Altered

Based on our research, we rate ALTERED an image that claims to show a New York Times article about how NFTs are the top expense for low-income men in 2021. The Times did not write or publish that headline or story, according to spokespeople for the newspaper.

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