Robinhood will no longer share stock “popularity data” with sites like Robintrack
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The stock trading app Robin Hood quietly turned off a feature on Friday that allowed anyone to see which company stocks were gaining popularity – a feature that has helped fuel recent unlikely gatherings at basket companies like Hertz and Kodak.
“We announced that we have decided to streamline public reporting of trends in investor activity on our platform,” said a spokesperson for Robinhood. “Going forward, our web platform will not display the number of customers who hold a particular stock on Robinhood.”
The company also said it is restricting access to its APIs, which are a software tool that allows third parties to extract data from websites.
Robinhood’s decision has already led to a website that relied on company data to shut down. The site says Robintrack, created dashboards showing stock trends in near real time.
In a recent interview with Fortune, the creator of the site, Casey Primozic, said that Robintrack receives more than 300,000 visitors per month and praised Robinhood for the sharing of data – what his site calls “popularity data” – that other companies have either. kept private or charged large sums of money to access it.
Primozic confirmed to Bloomberg on Friday that it was shutting down the site, saying Robinhood decided to cut the data on the grounds that “other people” – likely including Robintrack – were using the data in ways that could distort the characterization of the business as a pimping to day traders.
Primozic’s claim is consistent with the comments Robinhood provided to Fortune. Specifically, a spokesperson for the company noted that the majority of the site’s users were “buy and hold” investors who act as “savvy participants in the markets”.
The company’s comments appear to be a tacit attempt to counter a recent wave of negative headlines that characterized Robinhood as creating a FOMO mentality among users, in part by creating a “gamified” casino-like interface. Robinhood drew particular criticism after 22-year-old options trader committed suicide after accumulating what he believed to be a huge financial liability.
“Getting everyone to see what the ‘Robinhood Traders’ are holding has been a public relations headache, and I can’t imagine that giving them a ton of brand value,” says Ranjan Roy, a seasoned trader who recently wrote a popular article blog post on the Robinhood business model.
Others suggested on Twitter that Robinhood’s decision to cut the data portends a decision by the company to bundle and sell the information to hedge funds or other financial firms. Speculation appeared to be fueled in part by Robinhood taking payments from Citadel Securities and others for route customer orders to these companies – a common practice among brokerage houses.
The company’s spokesperson, however, said his decision to cut access to the data was unrelated to making money.
“We have no intention of selling this data,” she said.
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