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Google deletes negative reviews of Robinhood app

Google deleted negative reviews of the stock trading app Robinhood after backlash over the company’s decision Thursday to block users from buying or trading stocks that were popular on a Reddit subforum.

There was an influx of negative reviews of the app on the Google Play store after users on Reddit pushed for campaigns to leave one-star reviews over the app's decision to ban trading stocks that were popularized on the forum r/WallStreetBets. The app limited buying or trading stocks including GameStop, AMC and BlackBerry. 

Google removed at least 100,000 negative reviews of the app from its Play store, The Verge and Gizmodo reported

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A spokesperson for Google confirmed to The Hill that the company took action on reviews found to be inauthentic or in violation of the company’s policy. 

Google’s policies prohibit “fake ratings” that are “meant to manipulate an app’s average rating or top reviews.” Similarly, developers are not allowed to remove reviews or attempt to influence their rating by boosting it with five-star reviews. 

Reviews that don’t follow Google’s policies are subject to be removed from the Google Play store. 

As of Friday afternoon, Robinhood’s rating in the Google Play store was at an overall three and a half stars. A spokesperson for Google noted that there were still remaining one-star reviews.

In at least one one-star review The Hill identified on Friday, a user lamented Google’s removal of reviews. 

“Hey Google. Keep deleting the reviews. I'll keep retyping it,” the user wrote. 

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On the Apple App Store, Robinhood had nearly a full five-star rating as of Friday afternoon. But most of the recent reviews were one-star ratings and criticized the company over its decision to block the trading of the stocks that gained popularity through the Reddit forum. 

The negative review campaign is not the only action users are taking against Robinhood, though. 

A class-action lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York on Thursday almost immediately after Robinhood restricted the trading of some stocks. The lawsuit claims the app “purposefully, willfully, and knowingly removing the stock ‘GME’ [GameStop] from its trading platform in the midst of an unprecedented stock rise thereby deprived retail investors of the ability to invest in the open-market and manipulating the open-market.” 

Robinhood is also facing criticism from a bipartisan group of lawmakers, and incoming chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownA bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure Former Ohio health director won't run for Senate MORE (D-Ohio) said a hearing would be held on the state of the stock market amid the concern about Robinhood’s actions.