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Small investors piled into stocks in 2021, at times banding together on online forums like Reddit's WallStreetBets to stoke a frenzy over certain companies like GameStop. The financially struggling video game retailer surged more than 1,600% in January as novice investors using trading apps like Robinhood snapped up shares. The mania led to big losses for some hedge funds, multiple halts in trading and congressional hearings asking who was getting hurt.

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Social media companies had an eventful year, starting with Twitter and Facebook banning then-President Donald Trump from their platforms after the Capitol riots. Later in the year the debate over social media's impact on the public exploded when Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked tens of thousands of damning internal documents about the harm the company is causing to its users around the world. Amid the fallout that has included congressional hearings, Facebook rebranded itself Meta Platforms, reflecting its commitment to developing the metaverse. CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the metaverse as a "virtual environment" you can go inside of — instead of just looking at on a screen.

While trading apps have made accessing and investing in the stock market easier than ever, participation always carries the potential for financial loss or gain.

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Once you've opened an account, you'll want to explore your investment options and the risk they carry. Here are some of the most common investments you'll need to consider:

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Options are bets investors place on a stock, allowing them to buy (a "call" option) or sell (a "put" option) at a particular price. That allow…

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The way people trade stocks has been upended by the rise of no-fee apps like Robinhood. That technology has democratized investing, giving arm…

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