Note: I am not invested in HTZ or GME. This is not investment advice and is in no way to be construed as investment advice.

Websites like r/wallstreetbets can cause herd investments in various stocks.

This is not unique to WSB and also exists anywhere stocks are discussed publicly (twitter has many accounts touting investment ideas).

Recent examples being Hertz and Gamestop:

Are the websites, and the advice they "appear" to give, illegal? Is this market manipulation or could one be accused by posting on these websites as a "market manipulator"?

Or, are the websites fully legal and are just "opinions" that others reading can construe in any way they want.

I am reminded of SEC vs Lebed:

Thank you for your interpretations

Edit Coincidentally, this article just came out:

  • Legal analysis of market phenomena like WSB is really interesting, but this question is potentially too broad. It might help to limit it to a particular jurisdiction (eg. US federal securities law) and hypothetical person/activity (eg. holder of stock XYZ encouraging other people to follow the same strategy on a public forum).
    – sjy
    Jan 27 '21 at 23:50
  • 1
    I am adding a U.S. and SEC tag as that appears to be the intent of the question. Without answering the question, I would note that the line between general discussion of the markets and illegal securities activities it a fine one and that there are colorable arguments both ways that could be quite dependent upon fine factual details.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 28 '21 at 17:35
  • @ohwilleke Thanks I didn't see that tag.
    – jason m
    Jan 28 '21 at 19:16

That is going to depend greatly on the circumstances. In the US generally anyone may express an opinion on the value or merits of an investment, indeed that is protected speech under the first amendment.

However, a person with an interest in a stock or other security who publishes an opinion or statement intended to deceive people, with the further intent of profiting by the deception, may well have committed securities fraud. If the published text contains false statements of fact, known to the author to be false, or that the author knows have not been checked and might well be false, that is additional evidence of such fraud.

There are other cases in which such posting of an alleged "opinion piece" might be criminal or an actionable tort.

But that would not make the site illegal. It would be the specific acts by specific people that would be illegal. Only if the site were routinely used for such unlawful purposes and seemed to have no legitimate purpose would one be likely to say that the site was illegal, and even then it is a stretch.

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