Did the Robinhood app open a backdoor to the American financial ecosystem?

The archetypal narrative of the noble thief might be a cover-up for the first successful test of astroturfing on financial markets

No worries, I’m not going to teach you what are “shorts” and where does the word “clearing” come from. I really don’t care about stock gambling.

I’m a propaganda specialist and my job is to see patterns in communication disruptions.

Lately today I was making a podcast named The Canaries On The Net together with my colleague Josef Holy, who is an expert on social media algorithms and digital evangelist. We both noticed at the same time, that there is something deeper behind the common joyful narrative about the democratization of the stock exchange. And we both came to the same conclusion: No man ever steps in the same river twice. This is not a second Occupy Wall Street.

We both witnessed how social media broke the well-established information distribution model of our western democratic sociates. People were so excited about the new possibilities. Everyone could become a journalist with his knowledge, how creative and democratic!

In 2021 our civilization realized that the beast we created polluted our perception with billions of misinformation produced by malicious actors and that they inserted an addictive model of anger harvesting in almost every nation. Our democracies struggle to survive.

Last week we saw this model being replicated in a world where no one would have expected it. In financial markets.

Implementing angry masses in the equilibrium of financial power

The middlemen of history, how Tyler Durden calls them, disfranchised “no-buddies”, wanted their fair share of the world. They were offered a sunny place of the attention economy: for free. No commission fee, every single piece of stock could be sliced into smaller portions to take the small middlemen´s money. No more barriers. No more standards. No more authorities and education needed. No more rules. No more elites. No more exclusivity. Just the algorithms and us. First Facebook, now the Robinhood app.

Everything that the devil wants is the sign up (no, not with your blood) and you’ll pay later with your soul. Oh, wait, no! Just with your behavioural data.

It´s Covid time. You sit at home. Lonely and pissed, wasting your time in endless destructive discussions. One day someone suggests to go and grab your place in history. No, not the Capitol this time. It is so much better. Gamification is what makes you happy. Let’s punish the wolves of Wall Street. A pop-up window on Reddit occurs: Did you just receive your one thousand bugs from the government? Suddenly, without thinking, you know what to do. Your revenge time has come.

“If something is free, you are the product.”

Why is no one speaking about Panama papers? The files show that in 2011, Russian state bank VTB funded a $191m investment in Twitter and at the same time, state Gazprom Investholding financed an opaque offshore company, which in turn funded a vehicle that held $1bn-worth of Facebook shares. When the Russian oligarch Yuri Milner helped with huge Kremlin monies the successful start of Facebook (and other promising social media), everyone in Silicon Valley cherished it. Now Yuri Milner, who showed up with his mascot Jared Kusner (&Co) again, is the one, who is behind the Robinhood app. Our democratization mercenary is back. With the same narrative of a platform against the information elites.

Ten years, one sedition and two impeachments later we are on the verge of making the same mistake again. With perfect math in the background, this is a hack of a communication equilibrium with angry masses to overtake the decision-making algorithm of the American financial system .

Research of Russian disinfo, seminar leader and public speaker. Author of books on Information Warfare. www.alvarova.com

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