GameStop stock: why Google was forced to purge 100,000 negative reviews from Play Store

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If you’ve spent any time online in the last week, you’ll be well aware that GameStop stock is through the roof right now. The ailing high street video game shop, which mainly operates in the United States, saw Reddit users band together to fend off hugely-wealthy hedge funds that had bet billions on GameStop’s stock prices falling.

Amateur investors who had been sharing tips on the r/WallStreetBets subreddit forum managed to drive up the GameStop stock prices by almost 800 percent in the space of just a week. Last year, GameStop shares could be purchased for around $3 a share, but this month GME shares have hit as high as $347.51.

Successful Wall Street hedge funds were taken by surprise and suffered huge losses, and global regulators have said they’re monitoring trading activity. But hobby-investors have said they’ve just been playing Wall Street at their own game.

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And amid this backdrop, there has been a further twist in the tale, with Reddit investors left angry at trading platform Robinhood. The app, first founded in 2013, is a stocks trading app that is predominantly used by millennials. But amid the Reddit-fuelled drive in the GameStop stock price, Robinhood announced they were limiting purchases of restricted stock.

Robinhood co-founder Vladimir Tenev tweeted: “To be clear, this decision was not made on the direction of any market maker we route to or other market participants. Starting tomorrow, we plan to allow limited buys of these securities. We’ll continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed.”

The decision has led to anger among the Reddit community, with many hobby-investors feeling betrayed by the new restrictions, which were seen to benefit Wall Street firms desperate for the stock price to fall in order to dilute some of their vast losses.

And this has led to the Robinhood app on the Google Play Store getting “review bombed”. According to 9to5Google, over 100,000 negative reviews of the Robinhood app were removed from the Play Store.

Google says such action is taken when they see “fake ratings” that are meant to manipulate a product’s average score. Whether you agree with that sentiment or feel the anger towards Robinhood is justified is debatable. One negative Robinhood review on the Play Store said: “Robinhood displayed a clear ethical shortcoming today, by removing user’s ability to trade specific stocks – presumably to protect the assets of those who they should not be in bed with. Updating this to mention that Google is removing negative reviews.”

While another posted: “Down over 30k because of Robinhood locked it’s customers out of buys on reddit stocks. Totally illegal and goes against everything Robinhood claims to be. Protected hedge funds over its customers.”

On the day that Robinhood announced these restrictions GameStop stock prices fell from $347.51 to $193.60. However, since then GameStop share prices have claimed once again – with stock priced at $320 by close of play last Friday.

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