Shopping for a New Social Feed

Gadget Lab: Weekly Tech News from WIRED

Apr 4 2024 • 30 mins

Hey, did you see the ad for that Bluetooth-enabled Shiatsu foot massager? How about the one for the organic mushroom supplement powder? They're probably not even the most interesting things you can buy on TikTok or Instagram. Just as the apps have thrived on a steady stream of feel-good content, they have also inundated their users with cheap, bright, and shiny stuff they can swipe through and buy with just a few taps. It's a trend that's spread out to every social site, and has taken a unique shape on TikTok through the platform’s new experimental TikTok Shop. Now, it's hard to get through a couple videos without being accosted by virility pills, fast fashion, and hangover cures.

This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED staff writer Amanda Hoover joins us to talk about the weird world of TikTok Shop, how its fee structure is evolving, and why it feels like every single social media service is pivoting to zany products.

Show Notes:

Read Amanda’s story about TikTok Shop raising its seller fees. Listen to our recent episode (#636) about the possibility of a TikTok ban.


Amanda recommends the HungovrAF cap. Mike recommends the documentary Anselm, directed by Wim Winders. Lauren recommends Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks.

Amanda Hoover can be found on social media @byamandahoover. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.