Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are unique tokens stored on a digital ledger – the blockchain. They are meant to represent unique, non-interchangeable digital assets, as there is only one token with that exact data. Moreover, the information attached to the token cannot be altered as on a regular database. While copies of these digital items are available to all, NFTs are tracked on blockchains to provide the owner with proof of ownership. This possibility of buying and owning digital assets can be attractive to many individuals.

NFTs are presently at the stage of early adoption and their uses are expanding. In the future, they could become a fundamental and integral component of tomorrow’s web. NFTs bear the potential to become the engine of speech: as tokenized expressions cannot be altered or deleted, they enable complete freedom of expression, which is not subject to censorship. However, tokenized speech can also bear significant costs and risks, which can threaten individual dignity and the public interest. Anyone can tokenize a defamatory tweet, a shaming tweet, or a tweet that includes personal identifying information and these tokenized expressions can never be deleted or removed from the blockchain, risking permanent damage to the reputations of those involved. Even worse, anyone can tokenize extremist political views, such as alt-right incitement, which could ultimately result in violence against minorities, and infringe on the public interest.

To date, literature has focused on harmful speech that appears on dominant digital platforms, but has yet to explore and address the benefits, challenges and risks of tokenized speech. Such speech cannot be deleted from the web in the same way traditional internet intermediaries currently remove content. Thus, the potential influence of NFTs on freedom of expression remains unclear. This Article strives to fill the gap and contribute to literature in several ways. It introduces the idea of owning digital assets by using NFT technology, surveys the main uses of tokenizing digital assets and the benefits of such practices. It aims to raise awareness of the potential of tokenized speech to circumvent censorship and to act as the engine of freedom of expression. Yet it also addresses the challenges and risks posed by tokenized speech. Finally, it proposes various solutions and remedies for the abuse of NFT technology, which may have the potential to perpetuate harmful speech. As we are well aware of the challenges inherent in our proposals for mitigation, this Article also addresses First Amendment objections to the proposed solution.