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Hashtag Trending March 4 – Amazon closes physical stores; TikTok investigation; EU’s case against China

Amazon closes a chunk of its physical retail stores; U.S. state attorneys investigate TikTok’s effects on mental health, and the EU files a patent protection case against China.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Friday, March 4, and I’m your host, Pragya Sehgal.

Amazon is closing most of its physical stores to focus on its grocery and fashion stores. The shuttered locations include 68 Amazon Books, Amazon 4-Star, and Amazon Pop Up shops in the U.S. and the U.K. The company had high hopes when it opened its first physical book store in 2015, and later expanded its presence with the 4-Star general store and Pop Up stores. In addition to selling stuff, the stores also served as return points for online Amazon purchases. Unfortunately, they never gained the mass success Amazon had envisioned. Instead of losing money maintaining them, Amazon is likely consolidating its attention to its grocery stores and clothing stores.

TikTok is the latest social media giant to face heavy scrutiny over its effect on mental health, especially among younger people. A coalition of state attorneys from several U.S. states is launching an investigation into TikTok’s design and marketing. It will also examine how exactly the platform’s algorithm keeps users’ attention. A TikTok spokesperson told Verge that the company appreciates their efforts and looks forward to providing relevant information. TikTok’s success can’t be understated. Meta employees reportedly estimated that teens spend twice as much time on TikTok than Instagram. And in 2021, TikTok surpassed Google.com as the world’s most popular website.

The European Union filed a case against China for restricting EU companies from protecting their patents. The filing accused China of restricting EU companies from protecting their IP when they’re used illegally by Chinese manufacturers. When the affected companies go to a foreign court to make a case, they’re often met with a heavy fine in China. The potential fine pressures the companies to settle for licensing fees below market rates. This leaves European companies at a significant disadvantage. This has been a persistent problem, as the EU has already raised the issue to China numerous times to no avail.

And now for something a little different. Fast-food chain Wingstop has filed a trademark to sell chicken wings in the metaverse. In addition to selling food and drinks in the metaverse, the trademark also covers NFTs. A company spokesperson told Business Insider that the company is excited to “serve the world flavour in a virtual space.” Wingstop isn’t the only fast-food company to take their menu into the metaverse. McDonald’s and Panera Bread had also filed their own trademarks to sell digital goods. Whether they’ll cater to people’s virtual palette remains to be seen.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash briefings or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. Also, catch the next episode of Hashtag Tendances, our weekly Hashtag Trending episode in French, which drops every Thursday morning. If you have a suggestion or a tip, drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thank you for listening, I’m Pragya Sehgal.

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