Google appeared to remove nearly 100,000 negative reviews for the Robinhood app after outraged investors bombarded the stock-trading startup with complaints.
Amateur traders urged each other online to leave negative reviews for the app in the Google Play Store after Robinhood froze trading on shares of GameStop and other stocks whose prices have exploded this week.
The campaign appeared to work — Robinhood’s Android app had a one-star rating based on nearly 275,000 reviews on Thursday, according to a screenshot captured by 9to5Google.
But that number had fallen to just over 176,000 by midday Friday as Google apparently purged the bad reviews, bringing Robinhood’s rating back up to roughly four stars.
Google said it removes reviews under policies that prohibit users from manipulating an app’s average star rating. The tech titan says it has longstanding systems in place to detect abuse of the review system, including reviews that are coordinated or inorganic, regardless of their content.
Google said developers can’t remove reviews of their apps themselves and are forbidden by the Play Store’s policies from trying to influence their apps’ ratings.
But none of that stopped angry Robinhood users from dropping one-star reviews for the app on Friday, even after the company eased its restrictions on GameStop and other stocks. Some called out the fact that Google was policing the negative comments.
“Would give zero stars except apparently google has been removing tons of the 1 star review,” one person wrote, giving Robinhood a two-star rating. “I’ve deactivated my account and I’ll never be using them again.”