Google Deletes Over 100,000 1-Star Reviews, Restores Robinhood’s App Rating

January 29, 2021 Updated: January 29, 2021

Google Play store has removed at least 100,000 negative user reviews targeting Robinhood, the stock trading platform caught in the center of the GameStop trading frenzy.

Robinhood’s rating on Google Play had dropped from four stars out of five on Wednesday to just one star on Thursday. It had bounced back to four stars at the time of this publication.

The drastic change came after Robinhood, which is popular among investors with little or no experience in online stock trading, announced it would halt purchases of GameStop, AMC, and other stocks promoted by the Reddit’s WallStreetBets discussion board. In apparent revenge, angry Reddit users called on each other to flood the app with 1-star reviews, dipping its review score.

In a statement to tech site Gizmodo, Google said it had taken action against reviews that are deemed “coordinated or inorganic.” The company reportedly refused to disclose more details about how it determined which review to be inorganic.

According to Google’s policies, it prohibits manipulation of an app’s review score through “5-star attacks” to positively boost an app’s rating, or “1-star attacks” to plunge it. The company said in a developer blog post that it has a system that “combines human intelligence with machine learning to detect and enforce policy violations in ratings and reviews.”

Meanwhile, Facebook shut down Robinhood Stock Traders, a 157,000-member stock trading discussion group, for allegedly violating the social media platforms policy on “adult sexual exploitation.”

Allen Tran, a 23-year-old Chicago man who founded Robinhood Stock Traders, complained to Reuters that Facebook was not a “free platform like Reddit.”

“The major institutions are attempting to silence our community,” Tran wrote in a separate Facebook post. “We are positively impacting peoples’ lives and they are attacking our group because we are more powerful then them.”

A Facebook spokesperson told Reuters that the decision to take down Robinhood Stock Traders had nothing to with the “ongoing stock frenzy.”

Earlier this month, a group of WallStreetBets community members launched a campaign to buy up GameStop and other stocks after noticing that a hedge fund had taken out a massive amount of short trades on the struggling electronics retail company. Their investment caused the price of the GameStop stock to soar rapidly, leaving the hedge funds and other institutions who had bet that the price would fall with losses of billions of dollars. The losses, estimated to top $19 billion as of Friday, are yet to be realized.