This organization wants to use NFTs for #MeToo activism
In March, a digital artwork by graphic designer Beeple sold $ 69 million at Christie’s auction house. The sale was backed by an NFT, or non-fungible token, which secures the ownership rights to the artwork through a digital record of the transaction, much like how physical art changes hands. This year, the NFT craze has generated sales of hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, whether for a New York Times story Where Jack Dorsey’s first tweet or the Nyan Chat GIF.
For many NFT collectors, the goal is to help artists financially and claim the right to brag about owning an original digital work of art. But Ariella Steinhorn and Amber Scorah, who run the storytelling platform Lioness, which helps spread stories of workplace abuse to the media, saw an opportunity to capitalize on the enthusiasm for TVNs for a new purpose. “There were all these different ways that NFTs were used and exploited,” says Scorah. “And we noticed that no one had used them before to draw attention to a social issue or an individual story and to sort of harness the power of NFT for activism.”
Today, Lioness published an essay from an anonymous source detailing her experience finding treatment in the late 1990s with wellness guru and alternative medicine practitioner Deepak Chopra, who she said had a sexual relationship with her while she was at the Chopra Center. In addition to publishing the essay, Lioness has hit an NFT on the Foundation platform, using a diary page the author wrote in 1998, around the time the events she describes allegedly took place.
In a cease and desist letter to Lioness, Chopra’s attorney vehemently denied the allegations and threatened legal action if they advanced in the publication. Chopra was not immediately available for comment Fast business. We will update this post when we get a response.
The diary had surfaced as Lioness investigated the author’s claims. Steinhorn and Scorah felt the page offered both corroboration and a powerful reminder to readers that a real person was behind the allegations, despite their anonymity. “Here is the perfect visual artifact that illustrated exactly what this story was about,” says Scorah. “It was written by this young woman who was in her twenties at the time. It’s really raw, and it’s very authentic from the experience of a young woman who’s confused and doesn’t quite understand what she’s getting herself into, and is messed up about it.
As a small business, Lioness was also concerned about the potential legal repercussions of posting an anonymous account containing allegations against a public figure with deep pockets like Chopra. (Lioness had courted several posts with the story, but they were unwilling to publish the allegations from a single anonymous source.) To help protect both the author and Lioness, any proceeds from the sale of the NFT be directed to a legal fund, for use in prosecution or other legal action; The NFT auction will officially open on Thursday, September 23 at 1 p.m. ET. “We’re cementing it forever on the blockchain,” says Steinhorn, “and in the process of doing that, hopefully getting an offer that will allow us to continue this work.”
In some ways, says Steinhorn, this NFT is a spiritual successor to the one recently sold by model and writer Emily Ratajkowski, which was aptly titled “Redeeming Myself: A Model of Redistribution” and was meant to be a statement about who should benefit from its image. (The NFT ended up selling for $ 175,000.)
“This is no longer a vanity project,” says Scorah. “It’s not the artifact [or] object which is the goal. It’s actually a way of showing support, a way of trying to change the culture, a way of trying to hold powerful people to account. “