📅 29 Jan 2021
This will be a quick recap of the first 10 days of #100DaysToOffload, as well as a brief summary of what I think happened this week.
So far, this has been a fun challenge. I haven’t focused too much on technology/privacy related topics, but I did do a review of Proton Mail.
More important than what I wrote about, however, is what happened this last week.
Essentially, a couple of people on Reddit discovered that a couple of stocks were heavily shorted by a few hedge funds. They started buying up shares of $GME, mainly, and once the train started, it was hard to stop. General internet trolls joined in, as well as anti-capitalists, anarchists, and celebrities, from Dave Portnoy (of Barstool Sports fame) to Congresswoman AOC and Senator Ted Cruz.
What really angered most was that Robinhood, whose entire business seemed to be based on the premise of free and available equity trading for the masses, shut down buying on a few highly-volatile stocks. Buying was closed on Thursday, January 28th, but there were some reports that it was limited today as well.
And this is where the story starts to tie into privacy and general open-internet principles.
For me, Robinhood is another example of a service focused around we - the users - as the product instead of the customer. I don’t mean to disparage any of them by saying this, but I think we as the consumer often forget that they too, like every other business, are generally in it to make money.
This doesn’t exclude Robinhood or any other similar company from having strong core values and visions of what they can offer to better the global population. Rather, it is just a fact that they have investors and those investors care about profitability. Robinhood is no exception.
In fact, what a lot of users and the public at large are just figuring out is that Robinhood’s business model - at least in part - revolved around executing trades through a third-party. In other words, your data was being shared with companies other than Robinhood, and Robinhood was getting paid for it. Nothing new here.
I don’t want to get into speculation, so I will leave it at that.
Regardless, in general, if a service is free, we should always be asking why it is free. There is nothing wrong with free services - in fact, we have come to rely on many of them.
But often times, free means you are the product and your data is being shared far and wide. Some people are fine sharing everything. That is fine. Others want to share only certain amounts. That is also fine, although it may mean you can’t use certain services.
And then there are those who don’t want to take part in any data-sharing, data-harvesting, what have you, and would prefer to remain completely anonymous. That is fine too.
What I’m getting at here is be aware. I’m not suggesting that I’m a soothsayer or anything, but I was well aware of Robinhood’s practices. We all should educate ourselves about the services we use online and on our phones. You may be surprised at what you find.
I did not, however, anticipate that they would restrict trading. But hey, it’s 2021 and we are in the midst of a global pandemic - anything is possible.
It will be interesting to see how this saga unfolds. There seems to be widespread support for some movement against big money and what many see as a rigged system. But can they keep up the momentum?
Day 11: #100DaysToOffload
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