Google is actively removing negative reviews of the Robinhood app from the Google Play Store, the company confirmed to The Verge. After some disgruntled Robinhood users organized campaigns to give the app a one-star review on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store — and succeeded in review-bombing it all the way down to a one-star rating — the company has now deleted enough reviews to bring it back up to nearly four stars.
Robinhood came under intense scrutiny on Thursday, after the stock trading app announced it would block purchases of GameStop, AMC, and other stocks made popular by the r/WallStreetBets subreddit, and some users have already replaced their deleted one-star reviews with new ones to make their anger heard.
Here’s a screenshot from the Play Store page captured by 9to5Google when the app had a one-star rating and nearly 275,000 reviews:
And here’s a screenshot we took shortly before publishing this article, showing a nearly four-star rating and around 180,000 reviews.
It’s not outside Google’s purview to delete these posts. Google’s policies explicitly prohibit reviews intended to manipulate an app’s rating, and the company says it has a system that “combines human intelligence with machine learning to detect and enforce policy violations in ratings and reviews.” Google says it specifically took action on reviews that it felt confident violated those policies, the company tells The Verge. Google says companies do not have the ability to delete reviews themselves.
On Apple’s App Store, Robinhood has a 4.7 rating, and we didn’t see any reviews newer than Wednesday. However, popular apps like TikTok, Uno, and Genshin Impact also didn’t have reviews from any later than Wednesday when we checked.
Unhappy Robinhood users aren’t just using reviews to show their ire — they’re also calling for a class action lawsuit. Later on Thursday, Robinhood said it would allow “limited buys” of certain stocks on Friday. The company said that halting purchases on Thursday was “a risk-management decision.”