Robinhood sucked in Millennials and Gen Z with the promise of free access to the stock market. It was revolutionary and exciting to allow the average person to put their money to work without the usual gatekeepers. One of their slogans even played into the ethos of being an inclusive platform for all: “Let the people trade.” Young, screen-addicted people across America were excited to take some control from the billionaires and democratize capitalistic access. But we forgot to read the fine print!
Why is Robinhood free?
So many things that seem good at first glance are free. We jump on board these fads, platforms and apps and have a field day getting everything we want out of it. Of course, nothing in life is free, especially when you live in a capitalist society.
10 times out of 10, if something is free for the user, it means we are the commodity. Our information is way more valuable than 99 cents for an app purchase or a percentage of the trade cost. It’s speculated that Robinhood makes all of the money they need by selling the information of what you’re about to do to the very mega players that they vowed to fight. t’s called front-running: These millionaires can do what you’re about to do before you do it, and they make a buck or two (or ten million).
Of course, this isn’t different from Google, Instagram, Twitter, and all other platforms that harvest our data, but if the speculations are true in Robinhood’s case, it happened more on the down-low.
Protecting our information
So, the question is: Do we reject free stuff? In this economy, especially for young people dealing with student debt and a stalled job market, we can’t afford to turn down complimentary resources. We especially can’t refuse access to the stock market, which is a path to wealth-building.
We can read the terms and conditions and make an educated decision about what we’re willing to give. If you don’t understand something in the complicated, small-print, 10-page file, ask Google a smart person that you know.
Apple is even allowing you to decide not to share your data now, so try to take advantage of these opportunities to keep yourself safe in the world of information buying, selling and stealing.