Tech giant Google erased more than 100,000 negative user reviews of the financial investment app Robinhood, which was bombed with 1-star ratings after it froze purchases of volatile stocks like GameStop and AMC. Collective action to play the stock market against Wall Street is still being driven by Redditors intent on crushing Wall Street hedge funds.
The app’s roughly 4-star rating plummeted on Wednesday to just one star, after upset customers retaliated against Robinhood for halting purchases of stocks promoted by the WallStreetBets community on Reddit.
On Twitter, political commentator Tim Pool described Robinhood’s actions as “personal.” In a series of remarks, Pool stated that he has used the app for years to purchase Nokia stocks, as he actually likes the brand. However, Robinhood suspended trades of Nokia and other legitimate stocks caught up in the GameStop affair.
Speaking to tech website Gizmodo, a Google spokesperson confirmed the company had removed the reviews, and defended its move. The company stated in an email that the company has rules against “coordinated or inorganic reviews.” In response, Gizmodo asked how negative reviews could be deemed “inorganic,” when people seem reasonably upset about the company’s actions in recent days. Google ceased responding to the publication after that inquiry.
Since Google removed the negative reviews, the Robinhood app's rating has rebounded to four stars. The app currently enjoys a 4.7 rating on Apple’s App Store, but it is unclear if Apple performed similar moderation of its reviews.
Following Robinhood’s decision to halt the purchases of stocks picked up by the WallSteetBets community, questions remain as to what actually motivated the company’s actions. According to Gizmodo, an early theory was that the hedge funds which had shorted stocks leaned on the app to halt trading, but an alternate theory suggests that Robinhood simply did not have the cash flow to continue processing so many stock purchases.
Robinhood users affected by the halting of purchases filed a class-action lawsuit against the company on Thursday, arguing that the app violated its customer agreement when it failed to disclose that it could “randomly pull a profitable stock from its platform.” The lawsuit claims that the company’s explanation is inadequate, and that it disadvantaged customers by banning them from trades accessible on other platforms.