GOOGLE has entered the fray of the Wall Street Bets fiasco that has thrown the stock market into disarray.
The search giant is deleting negative reviews of Robinhood left after the US brokerage app came under fire for blocking a frenzied trading rally in companies such as GameStop that was fuelled on social media forums.
Google is deleting negative reviews of Robinhood left on its Google Play app storeCredit: Alamy
More than 100,000 one-star reviews left by angry users have been removed from Google Play in a bid to salvage Robinhood’s plummeting rating on the app store, according to The Verge.
The company has been accused of bowing to Wall Street after amateur traders caused mayhem in the markets and cost big investors a fortune.
Last week, a “Reddit Rally” of small investors organising on a web forum bought up stock in video game retailer GameStop.
At one point shares soared by 700 per cent, sparking panic on Wall Street.
More than 100,000 one-star reviews left by angry users have been removed in a bid to salvage Robinhood’s plummeting ratingCredit: Alamy
Other users also succeeded in ramping up the stock price of AMC Entertainment, owners of America’s largest movie theater chain, and headphones maker Koss.
Part of their aim was to thwart hedge funds who had bet billions of dollars on the stock price falling in a practice known as short selling.
Shares tumbled again on Thursday after Robinhood and other platforms suspended trades in the unfancied stocks.
Robinhood was accused of doing Wall Street’s bidding after large investors demanded action to stop Redditors causing further disruption.
Stock sales on GameStop and several others resumed on Friday, but there was a limit on how much stock users could buy.
According to The Verge, angry investors got revenge on Robinhood by tanking its app rating in a practice known as “review bombing”.
Users began ‘review-bombing’ the brokerage app after it blocked a frenzied trading rally in companies such as GameStopCredit: EPA
Tens of thousands of people left negative app reviews on the Google Play and Apple App stores, driving it down to a one-star rating.
Google has now deleted enough reviews to bring it back up to four stars.
Screenshots of the Robinhood page on Google Play show that the app had a one-star rating and almost 280,000 reviews on Thursday.
Later that day, the app had a four-star rating with just 180,000 registered reviews.
Despite Google’s best efforts, however, it appears review-bombers are back with a vengence.
At the time of publishing, Robinhood was back down to a one-star rating with almost 300,000 reviews submitted.
GameStop’s share prices went up 130 per cent last week after online pranksters began buying up stock in an attempt to thwart hedge fundsCredit: Google
The company is within its rights to delete reviews, as the Google Play terms of service state that they cannot be used to manipulate an app’s rating.
Google says it has a system that “combines human intelligence with machine learning to detect and enforce policy violations in ratings and reviews”.
The California tech titan told The Verge that it took action to delete reviews of Robinhood that violated its policies.
It added that companies do not have the ability to delete reviews themselves.
Following the Robinhood’s trading restrictions, furious users have accused the app of colluding with hedge funds to block users from buying shares that damaged short sellers.
Last Friday Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev rubbished the idea that Citadel or any other firm had twisted his arm.
YouTube finance expert ‘Roaring Kitty’ reportedly helped with the planCredit: Roaring Kitty
He told Yahoo Finance: “On that conspiracy theory, I think I’ve over and over again said it’s not true.
“Our decision to temporarily restrict customers from buying certain securities had nothing to do with a market maker or a market participant or anyone like that putting pressure on us or asking us to do that.
“It was entirely about market dynamics and clearing house deposit requirements as per regulations.”
Strict regulations dictate the level of collateral brokers need to cover customers’ trades while they “settle” in a so-called clearing house.
WeBull, a Chinese-owned rival platform, gave a similar reason for why it also briefly suspended trades in GameStop, AMC and Koss.
Robinhood’s decision to suspend trades sparked angry protests in Wall St and condemnation from politicians in Washington.
What is Robinhood?
Robinhood is an app popular among amateur stock traders, with hundreds of thousands of downloads across Apple and Google’s app stores.
The platform, which also has a website, offers trading tools, stock tips and even a cryptocurrency exchange where users can invest in Bitcoin.
Robinhood was founded by Baiju Bhatt and Vlad Tenev, two children of immigrants who met at Stanford University in 2005.
They were inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests to create an app that made the stock market more accessible.
Critics argue that Robinhood “gameifies” investing, using tactics employed by addictive gambling apps to encourage users to buy stock.
It sends frequent push notifications to users about their stock positions, and when they make their first trade, confetti “rains down” in the app.
In response, Robinhood has argued that the app’s features “are meant for informational purposes only, and are not intended to serve as a recommendation to buy or sell any security.”
Donald Trump Jr tweeted: “I don’t recall the part of the story when Robin Hood sells out and starts to be a mercenary for the crown.
“Apparently everyone has a price.”
Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said: “This is unacceptable.
“We now need to know more about @RobinhoodApp’s decision to block retail investors from purchasing stock while hedge funds are freely able to trade the stock as they see fit.”
Federal lawsuits filed by users accused Robinhood of market manipulation.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has said it is investigating the actions of all “regulated partipants” involved in the GameStop row.
In other news, you can read more about Redditors’ crusade against short-sellers here.
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