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Robinhood Play Store listing went from 329K reviews to 180K in few hours (play.google.com)
707 points by rvnx 12 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 564 comments

The previous thread on this is https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25947697. For pointers to other vertices of this story graph, see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25933543.

Large threads are paginated. If you want to see all the comments you'll need to click through the More links at the bottom, or like this:



(and so on)

(This is a stub reply so I can collapse the various comments responding to this, so as not to distract too much from the topic at hand. (Sorry, non-JS users.))

Have you considered making the website actually show the comments instead of pinning yourself on every large post?

Yes, but I don't want this temporary state to get too comfortable because it's not the desired solution:





https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25710620 (thanks tzs!)

"Every large post" is an exaggeration, of course—I probably do this on fewer than 10% of the paginated threads.

Given that they specifically introduced pagination to avoid issues caused by too-large single pages, probably yes. (tbh I would have passive-agressively made the "next" link 100px Comic Sans, but it's probably a good thing I'm not responsible for that)

Hackernews has very few staff and most of them are busy with administration/moderation.

I agree kind of odd to see pinned posts by Dang but I have a feeling that's the best they can do with the resources at hand.

How were these not overall real reviews? If they can't prove otherwise, this just entrenches the idea that big money is vastly more powerful than small voices. I honestly don't see how if this trend continues how things will end well. It's not just about Robinhood, etc, it's deplatforming, using AWS, etc as a weapon against smaller voices. I can't see this ending well.

Me neither. This month is crazy with very visible examples of blatant, unethical overreach of prominent companies. This thing absolutely adds up in people's consciousness. Sure, it decays over time, but right now, it adds up faster.

Someone could become US president riding this public sentiment. Let's see if it decays in 4 years...

Given that 2021 is gearing up to become even weirder than 2020, it wouldn't surprise me if the next president was WallStreetBets' own /u/DeepFuckingValue...

I'd be down for asking someone from WallStreeBets to be my runningmate. Why DeepFuckingValue?

He is the one that posted the initial GME due diligence (DD) last year. Started with 50k in stocks and options, was valued at 48 million yesterday and 33 today and been posting updates basically everyday recently [0]. He did cash out 13 million yesterday.

[0]: https://old.reddit.com/user/DeepFuckingValue

Things I should have done.

1. Bought bitcoin when it was worthless

2. Followed DFV's footsteps when I watched him go in GME options around a year ago.

I don't know whether he orchestrated this or it grew out organically, but he's essentially the Jesus of WSB now. Most of what he seems to be doing is holding lots of GME and posting day-by-day updates (he lost some 14 million USD on GME yesterday, but is still millions in the positive) - but that galvanizes the community.

> I don't know whether he orchestrated this or it grew out organically, but he's essentially the Jesus of WSB now.

None of his DD was actually related to GME being shorted. In fact he mentioned a few months ago that he wasn't betting on the squeeze would happen.

That user took a strong position in GME before this all went down, and is still holding.

I believe if you go back in the user's posting history, he has posted screenshots of having a position in the stock over more than the past year--before the pandemic even started.

They could use a catchy slogan like "drain the swamp"...

I think there are a couple of other recent presidential hopefuls who centered their messages much more around reducing the structural power of billionaires and large corporations.

And further, nobody outside of the extreme of the extremists actually wants to eliminate the potential for achieving a "wealthy" status. People will always be able to achieve high levels of success. The argument is that we need to pick a point where amassing so much wealth can start to be deemed anti social and start to taper things off there. There is basically nothing you can buy with ten or eleven digits that you can't buy with nine, except entire corporations and countries and absolutely no individual needs that power or the prospect of that power to be fulfilled in life.

> who centered their messages much more around reducing the structural power of billionaires and large corporations.

The problem is that there is a segment of the American voters who believe that if the current billionaires and large corporations would quit screwing them, they would become the billionaires and owners of the large corporations. As such they are all for screwing over the current crop of billionaires, but don’t want long lasting reduction in the structural power of billionaires.

Sir, this is a site run by an investment fund, I'm afraid you've stepped a bit out of line there.

This platform is far from an impartial place. People need to remember the reason this site exists...

I've heard it said that Americans all think they are potential millionaires and billionaires that have temporarily hit a down patch. That's why democratic socialism will never fly here except for isolated programs.

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

John Steinbeck

Reminds me of an article I keep in my bookmarks from a long time ago, which is probably still true today: 39% of Americans think they are in the top 1% or that they will one day be [1]. They don't want to be mean to the rich because they think they are rich or will soon be among them.

1: https://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/12/opinion/the-triumph-of-ho...

Sir, how dare you discuss taxing money I haven't earned yet and will likely never earn in my lifetime.

The last one who did was great at playing lip service but gave the wealthy & big banks a $1T payout via tax cut.

Hopefully this sentiment results in structural change instead.

> could become US president riding this public sentiment

It already happened 4 years ago.

That was the sarcastic joke.

Most jokes are half-true here, sadly.

Scary to think that after four years of solid market gains it could implode because of retail investors getting angry.

It's imploding because hedge funds are taking crazy risk on and then illegally trying to weasel their way out of the losses they have coming.

If you through Trump was bad, just wait until a competent version shows up

I expect pompeo or haley to feature prominently in that role in 2024 unless Trump himself screws things up for republicans by trying to make a comeback

Awful as Google is, I'd still trust it more than anything with Mercer's fingerprints on it. (Which is barely at all. But still.)

As for 2024 - it is obvious now that the only way the GOP can win another election is by dismantling democracy.

There is no chance whatsoever that the GOP can win again without wilfully disenfranchising tens of millions of voters. In spite of the bot mob on Twitter trying to create the impression there's some kind of enraged far right majority agitating for representation, the reality is the numbers just aren't there for a clean win.

So that is what is happening now. 2020 is the last chance for the far right, and they know that - which is why they intend to take the shot well before 2024.

>> As for 2024 - it is obvious now that the only way the GOP can win another election is by dismantling democracy.

I don't think that's true. There are plenty of moderates in the the swing sates that voted for Biden but would be more than willing to jump on the bandwagon for someone who is seen as a moderate conservative and making the right promises. The trick is getting that candidate through the primaries if the scene looks like 2016, where the hard hard right will gather around the one nut job, and the other 5 establishment republicans will be indistinguishable.

> The trick is getting that candidate through the primaries if the scene looks like 2016,

After Trumpists, tea partiers and evangelicals it will be interesting to see what happens next. The latter two groups seemed happy to align with trump despite not sharing their core values, maybe the trumpists will stick with whatever the next group is.

Pompeo is a clown who can't even Bangladesh or Ukraine and Haley is long in the tooth. The SD governor Noem has the superficial attractiveness and utter in(s)anity to capture the heart of US right-wingers though.

March 4th.

> March 4th.

I believe the context here is that Sovereign Citizens and some Q people believe that this is the date that Trump assumes a new term.

March 4 was (haven’t verified this myself) the original inauguration date. So says a podcast I listened to about conspiracy theories.

I think it's a tough decision to make. In general I understand that Google would prevent review bombing, since it can very easily be abused by social media mobs or competitors. The point of reviews is to give a genuine idea of how people on average like a given app. Reviem bombing completely distorts that, whether it be 1-star or 5-star reviews.

But here it's a pretty huge app, and the bombing is motivated by a real issue the users are having, so I think I agree with you that it was not necessarily the right decision.

As always the real problem is that tech giants are opaque in their behaviour. If we had clear guidelines for what constitutes "review bombing" there wouldn't really be an issue I think.

Not really. Many of people are rightfully upset and want to leave a 1 star review. It would be extremely inappropriate if Google removed my review.

I think the app sucks if they can just prevent you from trading a stock and make you the bagholder in favor of large investors. Seems like a legitimate concern that hundred thousands of other people share - not some organized random prank. People are losing money as we speak.

It seems like maybe the solution is not to remove reviews, but weight them somehow. 100k reviews left in 2 days probably shouldn't have the same weight as 100k reviews left over 2 years.

Or a more sophisticated version of this would be to somehow cluster reviews based on the particular issue they are reporting.

I think this is how Steam solved (or attempted to) with their store reviews. Now you can see two scores, the lifetime score and the recents score.

In an ideal situation the app should show the 4. lifetime stars and the 1. recent stars. A user will them immediately know something happened, and investigate on their own (whether the review bombing was for something they care about or not).

> 100k reviews left in 2 days probably shouldn't have the same weight as 100k reviews left over 2 years.

I'm not entirely sure I agree with this; let me offer another perspective and maybe you can talk through this with me and help me understand a little better. A review is an opportunity for a user to give their honest feedback to any prospective user and (incidentally) to the app developer(s), so a bunch of reviews bombing an app into oblivion has the potential to be wasteful and harmful (unauthentic negative ratings from competitors, like you mentioned). But on the other hand if Firefox mobile has average reviews and I don't leave any kind of review since I've been fairly satisfied with my experience with the app for the eight or so years I've been using android, then they release Firefox Daylight and completely ruin the experience for me, preventing me from doing things I've been able to do for years and fundamentally tanking the experience, should a five star review from 2017-18 be considered more relevant than my 2 star review from 2020? And the other thousands of 1 star reviews flooding in after the update? What if a company has a bad app, changes their process from waterfall to agile (sorry, had to inject a little humor here), overhauls their app, and gets a huge influx of positive reviews the same day as the release. Do the negative reviews left over time have more relevance than the positive reviews left after the update?

I'm not trying to take a position on what the right approach is, I'm hoping to understand a perspective that's different from mine :).

Or just you know let people express their views.

If people think the app is a good or bad experience they will say so.

Where did I suggest otherwise? My whole point was to let the reviews be, but figure out a way to make them useful. 100k reviews complaining about not being able to buy Gamestop is not useful.

right here:

>[reviews i dont like] probably shouldn't have the same weight as [reviews i do like].

You’re projecting. The comment didn’t say that. The intent of the commenter is being assumed, whether rightly or wrongly.

Robinhood can kick people off, block trading certain stocks to help big players, etc. All ordinary people can do is leave a bad review and you want to take even that away. Why?

Because spam isn't helpful to other ordinary people browsing the store.

Clarification: It did not prevent you from selling your holdings (ie. did not make you a bag holder). It only prevented you from opening a new position.

It prevented people that bought on margin from selling during tomorrow’s short squeeze, since it auto-liquidated their positions.

At the same time as it auto-liquidated the positions, it blocked attempts to purchase the liquidated stock.

One of their major investors directly benefited from the resulting market distortion.

Wouldn't you see a similar rise in app store reviews though? Seems like that wasn't the case?

In this case you have a lot of people burned at the same time from the app failing to do the one thing they expected it to.


Completely unmoderated reviews would be awful, which suggests moderation is necessary. Moderation requires judgment, and different people have different ideas about what good judgment looks like. Your question made me think about what a "real review" is. Should the person have used the app for more than a certain period of time? Do they need to have taken certain actions (make an account?) Different folks will draw lines in different places because reviews are just opinions, and there are no real credentials for having an opinion. I don't see a way to resolve this with a centralized model.

Federated/distributed systems where the network is itself the filter seem more promising to me, even though they tend to come at the expense of usability.

why do scores need to be simple? why not simply graph satisfaction over time and allow for demarcations like number of hours used. trying to apply a roger ebert scoring system to products and services that are ephemeral and ever-changing is largely meaningless. whether review bombing is legitimate or not, it at least always has a cause and that cause should be considered highly relevant purchasing information.

I don't agree at all. I want to be able to rate an app that made it impossible to sign up with 1 star. Or that required access to my camera even though the app has nothing to do with taking photos or images. So, no time in but the app deserves IMO 1 star and potential customers should be notified to stay far away from the app

As for breaking apart reviews into categories that also has its problem. Zagat used to rate restaurants in 5 categories and it ended up requiring people to lie if they wanted to convey the message "do not go here".

Totally agree...ratings could be quite sophisticated. In the end, I suspect that sophisticated scoring system would still need to draw lines that some will disagree with, and we'd be back where we are now.

Sophisticated scoring might also bring common critiques, like ratings being biased or opaque (or just confusing). I recall Netflix had a issue when they made their star rating a prediction of what you would rate it (based on your previous viewing habits). It confused a lot of people who thought it was simply the average star rating. They since switched to percent-match as a result, and dropped star-reviews in favor of thumbs-up/thumbs-down.

Come to think of it, your suggestion may lead to something like percent-match for apps...though I suspect rating apps along dimensions the way Netflix does TV/movies may be tricky. Maybe different dimensions for different categories in the app store?

I'm still intrigued by a distributed approach that filters opinion through the sieve of the social network...I think it has more promise than centralized rating systems that attract abuse.

The internet has been going poorly for awhile. I don’t see how we’ll get off this track where the large crush and silence the small. I’m not sold on IPFS, GunDB, Zeronet, ect... My guess is federated XMPP or RSS might be a few of the only vestiges of resilient organization. Even Matrix has signalled they’ll begin looking into deplatforming. https://matrix.org/blog/2020/10/19/combating-abuse-in-matrix...

Sad times in cyberspace.

I read your Matrix link and it's not top-down deplatforming, it's user-driven moderation:

> What if we had a standard way to let users themselves build up and share their own views of whether other users, messages, rooms, servers etc. are obnoxious or not? What if you could visualise and choose which filters to apply to your view of Matrix?

The closest to actual deplatforming is:

> Admins running servers in particular jurisdictions then have the option to enforce whatever rules they need on their servers

But honestly, in a federated system I always assumed the server owners could do that. As long as it's not mandated from on high by the Matrix team, anyone can host whatever they want by setting up their own server.

Meanwhile in the UK, the 'Robinhood equivalent', 'Trading 212' also is taking a hit with the instant 1 star reviews it has: [0]

I'm expecting that Google will do the same here.

[0] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.avuscapita...

Which deplatformings do you specifically refer to? The concern over them just seems way too tribal at the moment to be considered in league with the more serious allegations against Robinhood and the funds involved - that is big money.

Wrt Parler specifically, I think a lot of the "solutions" (or sketches toward) on this site would quickly reveal that the optimal societal configuration is closer to what we have now than one would expect - with or without S230.

Also, the wording of "using AWS" is almost libelously in need of a citation - who is doing it, and how do they have any sway over a company that is both absolutely enormous and not particularly woke?

> Which deplatformings do you specifically refer to?

President (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), White House, Parler (Google Play, Apple, AWS), MyPillow guy, anyone who utters the phrase "stop the steal" on Facebook, Kyle Rittenhouse (Facebook, GoFundMe, Discover)

Wow, it's almost like private companies don't want to be seen supporting terrible people who have done terrible things, such as damage a democracy by incompetence and malice. Or encouraged and emboldened extremists cumulating in an attempt to actually harm the leaders of a country, or illegally obtain a gun, shot several people, then was seen associating with extremists who regularly call for and perpetrate violence.

Well those private companies wouldn't be seen as "supporting" anybody, if they behaved with any level of consistency and transparency. It is a problem of their own making, with every virtue signal further compounding expectations. I suspect that the majority of people you hate probably have phone numbers and receive mail, but I don't believe that AT&T and UPS "support" them - because those companies don't pull these stupid stunts. Debanking is starting to get normalized... and the new liberal battle cry is "private companies!"

Yes, that's why deplatforming happens.

They'll just play themselves into regulation eventually. Once FTC comes after them the only people to blame for it are themselves.

They are clearly not afraid of regulators anymore

"Too big to fail" is a slippery slope and the Citizens United rulings certainly didn't help with accountability.


May be, but if "split up big tech" becomes a viable path to being elected things may change _suddenly_

Last year Elizabeth Warren called for Facebook to be split up. Facebook censored it.

So things may change suddenly, but in one of two directions:

1. big tech being split up

2. big tech exercising the control they have over politics, by controlling speech, to prevent being split up

The second option would of course be the final end of democracy in America.

We have democracy in America?

To some extent, at least.

> How were these not overall real reviews? If they can't prove otherwise, this just entrenches the idea that big money is vastly more powerful than small voices.

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

All of this very impressive, community, unpredictable, sentiment driven market has proven is that even the platform those cowboys and girls are trading on are owned.

The claw's in deep.

These centralized app stores are part of this problem

And the news pits us against one another because God forbid we all get along and work together. That would be the real threat.

Could a solution to this be a 3rd political party that unites people together somehow? Instead of fighting between democrats and republicans all the time.

OK. Is your third political party pro gun or anti gun? I need to know before I can commit... see the problem yet? We’ve been divided with wedge issues.

Big money? What big money exactly? Do you really think Google care about RH and its money? They do it to prevent organized activities of rating manipulation. The RH case might be justified but Google cannot be the judge. If tomorrow the corner store across the street receives 100K reviews in 1 hour, Google would respond in a similar way.

I don't see any overlap between Google's executive board and Robinhood, but it's a small world among power players at that level. Someone could have called in a favor (or been trying to curry one).

Without more information, it's hard to say whether this was a good faith move by Google, reflexive algorithmic moderation, or another example of American extractionalism.

Please, some common sense. Google is one of the wealthist and powerful companies in the world. RH is one app out of millions in their play store. No one at Google is stupid enough to do RH a favor. It's not the first time nor the last time they do something like like this. Their tos doesn't allow rating manipulation, which clearly happened here. They don't care if it justified or not.

All the insane conspiracy theories floating around, by people who mostly have no idea how trading/margin works, that this is just mean ol’ hedge funds trying to screw the little guy... I’m suddenly afraid of Trump 2.0, except he or she is gonna be a lot more competent and brutal. Jan 6 was just the warmup.

There is so much wrath, envy, and greed out there, and so much willingness to believe whatever fits one’s preconceived notions of how the world works.

But the giant hedge funds and billionaires aren't corrupt at all and we should all just believe them?

Get real, most economic theory is all nonsense to cover for corruption and insider trading. Everyone can see how bad the economic inequality is getting, greed is mainly from the rich side, not from the so-called "conspiracy theorists"

Exactly! Today I saw a clip at the top of Reddit of a CNBC clip that was clearly manipulated to generate outrage, but only one person out of thousands even mentioned it in the comments

I mean, "this user never even downloaded this app" and "it got 100000% more reviews today than any other day" is probably a decent enough heuristic for removing fake reviews.

> this just entrenches the idea that big money is vastly more powerful than small voices.

An “idea”? It’s like saying there is an entrenched idea that the Earth goes around the Sun.

The political class tried everything in the book to divide this nation. And in just one day, at least among the “retarded”, there is unity. No wonder they are all coming out of the woodwork to claim support for the retards. They are worried.

> it's deplatforming, using AWS as a weapon against smaller voices. I can't see this ending well.

This, so much - imagine you believe "they" stole the election, "they" got your favorite social media shut down (parler/gab/whatever), "they" blocked the buying of options, "they" then liquidated your position as the price predictably fail and you got margin called, you complained but "they" got your feedback deleted. Ouch.

I can't see this ending well at all. The executive will have to be extremely careful with what they will enact. The climate was already tense, but this is making it explosive.

I'd be extremely careful for all my 2021 forecast.

So this is conflating some very different circumstances.

Do you seriously believe the average person won't think like that?

It's breaking trust at the society level.

It can become extremely dangerous when a large percentage of the population don't believe there's a social contract anymore.

The point is that a widely perceived conflation will have material effects on the involved organizations and that the conflation will spread to new organizations with each new incident.

Agreed, if you keep demonstrating that might makes right, eventually people will act on in.

In all of these cases ‘They’ were within their rights.

So? That is supposed to make it okay in people’s minds? I kinda doubt it.

"They" also write the rules, so I can't see how anyone is going to be convinced by this.

I've been using Android for over a decade now I believe. Have only reviewed a handful of apps and generally been a good citizen. I left a thoughtful one star review today and it was deleted. I'm not going to lie, it irks me.

It feels like picking votes in a democracy. An interesting concept.

customer reviews aren't really a 'democracy'. They're supposed to be authentic and reflect the overall quality of the app to the general user.

A horde of outraged users bombarding the app even though most people won't care about this particular event distorts the rating comparable to disappointed TV viewers bombing imdb. It ruins the utility for everyone else.

I think the review is meant to reflect the entire product, not just the app. That includes robinhood's service, they're not separate. And robinhood passed a lot of people off by restricting the buying of certain stock. The backlash is warranted

Sadly for me a lot of the apps I've made I'm pretty happy with are filled with reviews that basically say "Sally in customer service was mean, 1 star".

That is part of the customer experience. If Google / Apple really wanted to, they could give more than one dimenion to score on. For example, a five star rating for app quality, fun, and customer service.

That they don't shouldn't preclude customers from rating the entire experience.

Yeap I think that is the feature I would like. I still think it’s fine they rate the whole thing by the way, just sad for me!

Supposing YouTube looked great, but they turned off the ability to watch videos, it'd also get a 1 star review from me.

That's how reviews are supposed to function. If the users are outraged at the app for what they feel was wrong behavior by the app and it's associated service, they are entitled to it. Just as I am entitled to leave a glowing review if the issue does not affect me.

Every product has a defect rate and outraged customers are the most likely to post reviews. Therefore a product is likely to have an overrepresented proportion of negative reviews. This is a tricky problem to correct for. I'm thinking about this more in terms of Amazon reviews, where they perhaps factor in the rate of returns when deciding what and how many reviews to delete.

that just means the reviews skew lower, not that they need to be 'corrected for'...

If a good product has 1K 'bad reviews', and a crap product has 10K 'bad reviews' - the system it working.

Anything else is just gaming the system to inflate review scores across the board.

When I shop for products on Amazon the problem is such that more or less all reviews are negative. In that case it doesn't matter if it's 1k or 10k, they simply drown out the positive/neutral reviews, even though I'm pretty safe to ignore the "this product was DOA" reviews. The review incentive structure is fundamentally broken.

eh - you can actually read all the reviews by rating...

if you feel only 3 star reviews are valuable, amazon lets you read just the 3 star reviews. If stuff is being 'drowned out' its because your trying to read all 500 pages of reviews?

To me, a much bigger problem is the fact that reviews on amazon are for totally different products then whats being sold (Sellers 'recycle' pages and change the product being sold - allowing them to keep the reviews and ratings)

So basically - I have to read the reviews 'most recent' first anyway..

The way this is fixed is by surveying customers and asking for reviews. Being involved in a customer service software Saas, I learned that for most companies, 80%+ of the interactions/transactions with customers are positive. But as you say, most people won’t leave a review - unless you ask them and make it easy for them to leave it. It also helps if you ask them to review a specific person (so they feel like they are helping someone).

What Google Play has done is not the right way to fix the ratio of positive to negative reviews, especially given the issue at hand. It also should be RH the one fixing its own reviews by addressing the problem with its user base.

> Every product has a defect rate and outraged customers are the most likely to post reviews. Therefore a product is likely to have an overrepresented proportion of negative reviews.

If I buy a product or a service, and it is defective or not what what was promised or not upto mark, I have the right to complain about it. Shutting down my valid complains because it would create an overrepresented proportion of negative reviews is downright wrong.

It's "wrong" in the sense that you go unheard but "right" in the sense that I can make a more accurate assessment of the product. I care more about the latter and so does the sales platform.

This energetic response from so many huge players even outside of WS have really elevated this meme stock saga to a monumental art piece.

Another interesting aspect is the back-and-forward. Reddit throttled and seem to have restored the sub. Discord reversed the ban. FB & Google jumped in.

Not to mention all the WS action, obviously. Financial press started with an emphatically anti-WSB position but public opinion and regular media went sharply in the other direction. I suspect tomorrow's press will be quite different.

WSB nutters believe they have withstood an day of coordinated market manipulation efforts. They're very pumped for round 2. Meanwhile, it seems like brokers, clearing houses, market makers and the markets are getting ready to reopen trading again.

The whole thing has become symbolic, and that might mean even more demand tomorrow.

Did you use the app?

chances are if you were leaving a review on the app on today of all possible days, and a one star one at that, it was most likely a knee jerk reaction to the company policy change (which they were basically forced to do) and not the app, and not a thoughtful one.

You'd do better to phrase this as a question. If you are willing to assume bad faith on an impression alone people will likely do the same for you, i just did.

Phrasing as a question means you aren't making the assumption and gives op a chance to make a good faith response, which is usually more constructive.

It’s an app for trading stocks. Suddenly I can’t use it to trade stocks. One star is warranted.

As always, there’s a relevant xkcd: https://xkcd.com/937/

First time I see that one! Incredibly relevant, 5 stars

This seems a lot like giving the Amazon app one star because something was out of stock.

But nothing was "out of stock". They just decided you can't buy?

In effect, it was. The stock was out there, but RH didn't have the cash in the right account to move it so you could buy it. If Amazon doesn't let me buy black socks for one day, it doesn't mean there are no black socks anywhere in the world.

That’s absolutely not what they told me in the email they sent me. Amazon doesn’t have my money in a sweep account. One star.

The Google Play Store isn't exactly known for "thoughtful" reviews. The GPS review system is so horribly gamed by app devs that I just ignore it.

Say you went to a restaurant on a day when their lettuce had salmonella and a bunch of people got sick and angry and then left 1* reviews on Yelp. Would you take them all down for the same reason?

Honest question: why does Google care here? They don't really have a stake in the GME situation, with no short or long positions (I'm assuming). They aren't that connected to Wall Street companies. Why protect Robinhood at all?

This reminds me of the "review bombing" debacles that have plagued Steam over recent years. Valve implemented a system to detect these patterns and discard the ratings. Valve had no particular stake in the games being "bombed", but they do have a stake in the trust people have in their platform. People want to know if a game is truly good or bad and not have to wonder if it was the victim of some kind of vendetta.

At the time no one strongly protested the move by Valve, but in the context of this situation with Google, Robinhood, and WSB it seems to have hit a particular nerve.

There is a huge difference. Review bombs are by people who usually have not played the game/app but post negative reviews on mass because of something usually unrelated to the game itself. In the case of Robinhood they are written by people upset that they have been monetarily screwed by the app. There were millions of people in WSB, 100,000 negitive reviews is only a fraction of that.

Either way, this could've been an automated system kicking in, which probably cannot tell between legitimate and "illegitimate" review bombing.

> In the case of Robinhood they are written by people upset that they have been monetarily screwed by the app.

Are they? This feels identical to a few people organically getting mad and then people bandwagoning.

I don't think there is any appreciable difference, at least with the Steam example, as to review it you have to have owned it and refunds are neither easy or plentiful. Besides they were usually bombed for things relating to game login changes or DRM changes not on a whim like free apps on Google Play often are (which Robinhood is).

That's not to say Robinhood didn't deserve poor reviews or Steam hiding it is good but it definitely has seemed to strike more of a nerve with Robinhood even though both were very similar.

Given a lot of the comments I've seen today, I think a lot of people are upset they have been monetarily screwed, but do not actually understand the reason why they got screwed, and are just repeating stuff they've heard, regardless of its truth.

Valve did that for games that had fake reviews though. Getting your margin calls discarded out of hand and preventing buys on cash accounts is not the same as a game getting poor reviews because they had a policatally charged character.

They're not targeting fake reviews on Steam. They're targeting "off-topic reviews". ie. review bombing for topics outside of usual gameplay.

That might be inclusion of a pervasive anti-cheat, a poor comment made by a developer, or most recently a movie tie-in that included an offensive line.

These reviews are not removed but they stop contributing to the overall review score.

I don't think they remove the reviews outright though. They detect it, label it, and offer both a "recent reviews" and "all-time reviews", as well as a visual graph to show you the trend.

A far better approach than just removing the reviews outright if you ask me.

I don't think this is about the specific news or Robinhood's specific actions. More likely Google have a policy (or a habit) of removing reviews that don't look "organic", or reviews that seem driven by news or agenda. App developers will more be more likely to publish on your platform if their reviews are less likely to be unfairly mobbed or something.

Just guessing, obviously, and I'm not sure how the contours of such a policy would work. Clearly organic bad reviews will often be correlated with each other, and with negative news.

> More likely Google have a policy (or a habit)

Or automated system

Google doesn't want fake reviews on the play store. Its as simple as that. Google is removing these probably because they look like fake reviews, and don't care enough to spend time and resources investigating it.

How do you define "fake review"? People are not happy with a company and its app and they are "punishing" the company, what is the purpose of reviews if not this?

Exactly, how do you define "fake review"? Google sees 100K+ negative reviews coming in for one app on one day. What do you think they're going to do? Take 'em all down and call it a day. I really doubt that there is some incredibly corrupt culture in Google Play reviews or something like some are suggesting. I really the product owners just want to go home for the day/turn off the computer and eat dinner, just like everybody else that has a job.

How is that not fraud though? They are advertising a manipulated review score. The 1 stars aren't bots, they are people. Would it be legal for e.g. yelp to remove a string of bad reviews stemming from a catering company giving a wedding food poisoning?

I'm not saying I condone what happened. I just see people claiming corruption, and I personally doubt that. I think its more along the form of "lets remove these reviews for now and analyze them tomorrow"

Corruption is a tricky subject. Pawns of a dictatorship, a mafia or any hierarchical corrupt structure... They might not be aware of what's actually going on but that doesn't change the fact that the structure is corrupt. Whatever caused this, Google's guidelines, its business practices, its investor relations, is corrupt.

So, if prosecution or police receives too many (above average) complaints about something on a single day, they should just trash all of them and go home, is that what you are saying?

No. I never said that Google taking the reviews down is warranted or they are in the right or something. I'm just saying I don't think it's a malicious attack on users. And app store reviews of a stock trading app and the consensus of the general public on their police are completely different social scenarios, so comparing them is aimless.

No, those entities are subject to laws. Google and friends have transcended the mundane world of us mere mortals.

If you're using an AI, I assume they see that the comments coming in all follow an extremely similar format or come from suspicious IP addresses or come in at suspicious time intervals and so on. There are plenty of indicators that a review might be a bot.

That would be wrong but believable. I read some of the reviews, they did look very similar in ways beyond describing the same problems.

But I'm good with assuming malice, it seems like every company that takes action right now is unlikely to be doing it coincidentally. Maybe Google is doing it because of money somehow, hopefully it's an actual mistake that they'll fix. I suspect the former.

A fake review would be a review left by someone who is not a real user or customer. Thats almost impossible for google to work out but they would make it an aim to get as close as possible.

You want to try to avoid the mob jumping in on the reviews of something they never used because of some bad news.

Let X be the number of angry people who were affected by Robinhood's decision and let Y be the number of negative reviews left today, do you really think Y is greater than X here? If an app does a bad thing, it gets negative reviews. If an app does a really really bad thing, it gets a lot of negative reviews. What's so weird about that? Where is the "mob"?

But it's a free market and Google can do whatever they want lol. Don't you dare to say a bad word about them.

> They aren't that connected to Wall Street companies.

Lol. Sure they aren't.

Maybe, but Google are in a different league to these funds.

Google the corporation? Sure.

Many of the managers and workers at Google? Quite likely have a stake in what goes down on Wall Street.

That's more plausible but still relatively unlikely if you consider both how Google usually operate and who'd have clearance to pull the trigger if this is what is being suggested.

On balance, I really think this is just an automated system that's being conservative. Would you be in any way surprised that Google would have such a thing looking for big impulses in activity?

I doubt it. I'm at Facebook not Google but most of us employees are supporting the WSB side of this.

Most of the employees are not executives.


My theory is something simpler: Play Store has anti-review-bombing mechanism. It simply kicks in in this case.


What I do know is that Google doesn't remove reviews for just anyone. They don't remove Play Store reviews and they do not remove Google Local reviews. Even if an app or a company is birdgaded due to bad news that is someone's opinion.

Hopefully, Google can 1) Send out something explaining their action and 2) Provide regular folks the ability to have reviews removed.

They don't like their platform being manipulated by organized downvoting. Not rocket science.

What does "manipulation" mean here, and why is it bad? What does "organized" mean here? I personally left a 1-star review detailing why I think the app deserves it before I heard anything about the review bombing. If a significant portion of it is "organized", why is that bad? You're making many large assumptions, not to mention framing them antagonistically ("not rocket science").

This is brigading - people were not reviewing the app (which the app rating is supposed to measure), but retaliating against a (valid) slight from Robinhood. Seen in that light, the recent mass voting is noise.

In this case their "slight" directly affected the functionality of the App: I was unable to buy or even view certain stocks. To me that is clearly App functionality that should be subject to user review and rating.

Mass shifts in public opinion due to actual changes in how the App behaves is not brigading nor retaliation and should not be protected against.

Whats the difference between the app and the service the app provides from the perspective of a user of the app?

There are multiple ways to access the Robinhood service. The service itself may be great (e.g. via website), but the app terrible (crashes, bad UI, slow, etc).


I just gave a 1-star review on the iOS app store and am currently pulling all my money out of my RH account, because I don't like how RH is behaving.

People all thinking something is shit is not manipulation, its just collective agreement.

To play the Devil's advocate here, my personal intuition is that App reviews should be for how the apps perform, and shouldn't be used as proxy for reviewing those businesses. If the app is buggy or broken or whatever, it makes sense to give a low rating. I am not sure it makes equal sense if people suddenly realize they don't like the company who has made the app.

The functionality of the App and the policies and choices of the business are intrinsically tied. In this case their choice directly affected the functionality of the App: I was unable to buy or even view certain stocks. In my opinion that is, without a doubt, App functionality that should be subject to user review and rating.

It's one thing for the company to make choices that people disagree with but don't affect the actual functionality of the App. This could be environmental policies, partnering with a controversial government, using tax loopholes, etc. People going on brigades to review bomb an App for these types of issues are what should be protected against. Mass shifts in public opinion due to actual changes in how the App behaves should not be protected against.

If it is not letting you sell when you want to sell that’s a pretty shitty performance for a trading app. This is different from a subjective dislike of the parent company.

What if an app functions perfectly, but doesn't do what it promises? That's what seems to be happening here.

That's a fair point, and I agree with you – I hate it when reviews don't give me (the reader) an accurate picture of the experience I'll have with this app. Two problems though:

1. That's not how people treat reviews (people will leave a positive review if they love the business but the app is crap), so it's misleading to only enforce such an ideal here, with negative reviews.

2. In this case, the business effectively is the app, at least from the user's perspective. The app wouldn't let me even look at GME/AMC today, much less buy it. That's not what I want from a stock trading app, because it's an annoying experience that leaves a sour taste in my mouth, so 1-star it is.

xkcd #937. It's all great if the app isn't buggy, but if it doesn't do what it's advertised to do it deserves even more bad reviews.

I'm in the process of doing something similar. If you are as incensed as I am you might want to consider leaving a small amount of money < 1 USD in your account and opening an unused credit card with them.

Wait what does this do?

Presumably puts some burden on them? Like they have to maintain your credit card, review it once in a while, etc?

Google makes a lot of money from app developers. Perhaps they decided that the cost to them of angering app users by deleting negative reviews is less bad than the cost of app developers leaving their platform because Google won't protect their reputation (whether the negative ratings were deserved or not). App developers can watch this and rest easy that Google has their back in this (even if they don't on other things).

Google Play Store is a monopoly. Developers literally can't leave unless they want their android installs to decline by 99%.

You think Google, the 5th largest company in the world (by mkt cap), has no skin in the game when it comes maintaining the finance industry status quo?

Reasons Google would not want the financial status quo:

1. It tends to retard technical progress.

2. They have to make deals with entrenched incumbents to do finance.

3. There's nothing stopping a hedge fund manipulating Alphabet's stock.

Even if they do want to preserve the financial status quo, it's pretty difficult to see where the review score of a retail broker app fits in with that.

On the other hand avoiding review bombing is a Google Play store business objective, doing it in a half assed reactive way with an algorithm is Google's style, and of course it's also Google's style to not care about customer service nearly enough to wade into a debate about whether a pile on related to genuine upset with an app company's policy is really review bombing

Does Robinhood run on Google Cloud? If they aren’t this could be a move to try to get them to consider switching.

Keep in mind AWS is about to take on Twitter account and they took out Parler, an up and coming competitor overnight.

They don't like that apps on their store are being review bombed. That's really all it is.

Money. These people are fixing to lose to much, they'll pay their way out any way they can while they still can.

I get RH might be paying money to cleanup play store reviews, but how much is enough to justify the negative PR ?

There is another angle though - may be RH or some higher power is threatening to sue Google if they didn't help cleanup based on their own terms, which might have clause of active sabotage - I am sure they claim this is one such event.

That's not how these things work. Google is interested in the status quo. So much turmoil around digital platforms angering the owner class is bad for their business, more tech regulation etc. They don't want any drama, just fun and consumption.

RH didn't pay anything. Google knows what to do. The interests are way deeper than some pocket change moving around...

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