CNN Faces Allegations Of An NFT Rug Pull

The Vault NFT program from CNN, which debuted more than a year ago, was only intended to be a “six-week experiment,” and it is now being discontinued.

With the revelation that Vault (opens in new tab), which promised to enable users “collect NFTs of historic CNN moments and creative depictions,” is closing, CNN’s journey into the realm of NFTs has come to an unfortunate end.

The Vault team expressed gratitude for working with incredible journalists, producers, artists, photojournalists, and collectors worldwide. However, the group decided it was time to split ways with Vault by CNN.

“Vault was initially intended to be a six-week experiment, but community support and participation allowed us to grow this project into something much bigger. We appreciate your enthusiasm and participation in what we have created together.”

As a storehouse for “digital collectibles”—NFTs—obtained from CNN’s archives, Vault was introduced in June 2021. Six weekly drops of “important historical moments structured around certain themes, including early CNN exclusives, world history, and Presidential Elections” were the starting point, with further drops covering a more comprehensive range of subjects being the goal.

The Vault website notes that “Token holders will be able to showcase and display their Moments on a user page in the Vault.” A premium video display casing that creates a tangible depiction of the Moment on a screen is part of some limited edition sets.

Naturally, there was also a promise of money to be made:  CNN reported that Vault will “experiment with a range of selling models, including both open editions and limited editions.”

CNN stated in the statement that while Vault will no longer be created or maintained, “the Vault NFT collection will live on.” This is the kind of thing CNN was trying to sell. Unsurprisingly, not all CNN NFT owners thought that assertion to be satisfactory. Several comments on Twitter accused CNN of pulling a “rug pull,” a term for con artists who advertise an NFT before stealing the money and running.

To attribute that to CNN, which doesn’t rely on the selling of NFTs to pay the bills, is a bit of a stretch: It is projected to make close to $1 billion in profit (opens in new tab) in 2022; take note that this is the network’s worst performance since 2016 and appears to be cause for concern given how fundamentally flawed our current reality is. More importantly, everyone paid for what they received. Vault is disappearing, but NFTs will endure—at least to the extent that NFTs can be called to exist.

However, other criticisms of CNN’s description of Vault as a six-week failed experiment are more challenging to dismiss. In reality, the 2022 roadmap is still available on the Vault

documentation site. It makes many promises, including introducing a new series of NFTs called Photography for Change, “special CNN bonuses for Vault collectors,” and the option to mint NFTs based on any CNN article you choose.

On the Vault Discord (opens in new tab), where accusations of a rug pull and requests for refunds (and occasionally threats of legal action) are frequent, things aren’t any better. There may reportedly be partial reimbursements available: The specifics will be revealed later. However, Jason, the Vault Discord admin, stated in a message that each NFT owned will be offered as either Flow or stablecoins valued at about 20% of the initial mint price. That has also not been well received.

One Discord user commented, “20% is too low.” “75% or more. This week, I’ll get in touch with my attorney. Nobody ever explained the six-week experiment to us.”

Another said, “Literally a joke.” “Once you guys shut down, everything is going to zero.”

One commenter possibly implied that they aren’t genuinely losing anything because of the low refund offered. Even after Vault is gone, Vault NFTs will still be available and tradeable on Flow-compatible NFT marketplaces. This is good news for those who want to keep their digital collectibles (and some Vault Discord members stated that they would continue to treasure them in this capacity), but ‘investors’ are concerned that the closure of Vault will make it more challenging to make money off of Vault NFTs in the future.

The Discord member said, “As an investor, I don’t know if I can hope to break even in a few years.” “Can CNN explain why they believe 20% is fair? That suggests they hope we can break even or turn a profit within a few years. If not, this appears to be a scam. What optimism is the rebate portion based on?”

I’ve contacted the Vault administrators to get more details about the refund offer and will update you if I hear back.

Also, as recently as last month, CNN was still encouraging community members to purchase additional tokens so they would have enough to access upcoming events like the Art of Voting NFT Series, which is set to launch on November 8th, the day of the midterm elections. To obtain a key that would allow them access to the Art of Voting set and other undefined “exclusive perks,” collectors need to own at least one NFT from a specific group. Exclusive CNN Perks and Exclusive CNN Vault Merch were noted as “coming soon” in the documentation for Vault by CNN, which also featured a section outlining the fabled “utility.” According to a roadmap of planned capabilities, people would be able to mint any CNN article as an NFT later this year.


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