Google has scrambled to save the Robinhood trading app's rating on Google’s Play Store, deleting more than 100,000 one-star reviews, left by scores of traders frustrated after the app banned small investors from trading in groups.
The move comes after amateur investors piled into stocks that hedge funds had tipped to struggle or fail.
The app's rating plummeted rapidly after several Robinhood users organised campaigns to bring it down. Google, however, has managed to haul it back to above 3.5 stars by actively deleting bad reviews.
Since Google’s policies explicitly prohibit reviews intended to manipulate an app’s rating, the company acted. The tech giant told the Verge it specifically targeted reviews that violated its policies, adding that companies cannot delete reviews themselves.
Reddit Against Hedge Funds
The review-bombing comes after the trading app was used by amateur traders to buy stocks of companies like GameStop, AMC, BlackBerry, and Nokia – all part of a plan to fight back against hedge funds, which had shorted the firms.
Robinhood’s co-founder, Vladimir Tenev, explained to CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday night that the market volatility caused disruption and the company decided to freeze certain trades, saying that the company had to “make a very difficult decision to protect our customers and protect our firm.”
It's a Free Market
This is not the first time Robinhood has been involved in controversy. On 22 May last year, Hertz, the second-largest car rental agency in the United States declared bankruptcy, with billionaire investor Carl Icahn dumping his 55.3 million shares in the company. On 26 May and 8 June, however, the shares of the company skyrocketed, gaining nearly 900 percent in price. As for this case, it's still unknown what caused the spike, with some analytics blaming unawareness of amateur traders on the platform.