The GameStop Corp. short squeeze has been tipped as finance’s "French Revolution” — a middle finger to the establishment by a hive mind of Redditors able to channel cash into the stock market at such pace and scale that expert hedge funds have had to be thrown lifelines. That bored day traders could teach the pros a thing or two is reminiscent of other tales of the wisdom of the crowds — Garry Kasparov’s four-month chess match against the internet in 1999 comes to mind. It’s also rightly attracting regulatory scrutiny.

The worry is that, rather than a glorious decentralization of finance, what seems to be unfolding here is a crypto-esque farce combining volatile trading and chatroom-driven tips reminiscent of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and penny stocks all in a market juiced by pandemic stimulus. The U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission says it’s "actively monitoring” options and equities markets after a surreal few days that saw GameStop’s once-unloved retail chain skyrocket in value, forcing funds to unwind short positions at a loss.

These are obviously existential times for the regulators themselves, not just traders. The SEC’s terse statement was openly mocked on Reddit — one post on the WallStreetBets forum called the watchdog "government poodle regulators." Far cruder comments garnered more muscular intervention by communications platform Discord, which banned WallStreetBets’s server over what it called "hateful and discriminatory content after repeated warnings." Gaining high-profile attention for both potential financial wrongdoing and online hate speech is a huge turn of events for what was described last year as a "dingy corner of the internet” by Bloomberg Businessweek.