TikTok has been beneficial for many things, but one of its biggest shortcomings is offering a global platform to people who simply don’t deserve one. People who spread messages of hate, misinformation and dangerous ideals about the world, are, through various algorithms, able to reach far more people than ever historically possible. The latest offender? A man named Andrew Tate.
The British-American first rose to fame as a kickboxer but gained notoriety during a 2016 stint on Big Brother when a resurfaced video showed him beating a woman with a belt (Tate claimed the video was ‘consensual’). He was subsequently removed from the show.
These days, Tate is best known for being an influencer of sorts. Tate believes that women belong in the home, shouldn’t drive and are a man’s property. He only dates women aged 18-19 because he can “make an imprint” on them, and he respects Donald Trump for “grabbing bitches by the pussy” (a more expletive laden version of Trump’s original quote).
At the height of the #MeToo movement in 2017, Tate argued that female rape victims should bear some responsibility for their own rape – an opinion which he has reshared multiple times since. In one video, he demonstrates how he would attack a female partner if she ever accused him of cheating.
“It’s bang out the machete, boom in her face and grip her by the neck. Shut up bitch,” he said.
In response to allegations of domestic violence, he described his ex girlfriend and accuser as a “ “dumb hoe”.
Tate is also currently the subject of an ongoing investigation with Romanian authorities over crimes relating to human trafficking, after a woman claimed she was held captive in his house against her will.
His views are as misogynistic as they are tired. Saying women are property for a perverse kind of internet clout? It’s been done. Yet throw TikTok’s hyper powerful algorithm into the mix, and Tate’s views are reaching a much wider — and arguably more impressionable — audience than his troglodyte forefathers.
How did Andrew Tate become one of the biggest names on TikTok?
Andrew Tate is all over TikTok’s For You Page. Videos featuring the 35-year-old have racked up more than 11.6 billion views. In July, there were more Google searches for his name than for Donald Trump or Kim Kardashian.
It’s a shocking level of fame given that he’s not active on the app himself, but it points to a far bigger problem.
Tate’s meteoric surge is a direct result of his followers, who have been encouraged to flood the app with his content, choosing the most controversial clips in order to achieve maximum views and engagement. It’s incredibly manipulative, but it’s working.
His loyal fanbase is made up of men from around the world, including boys as young as 13. They have mostly been recruited through Tate’s online program, known as the ‘Hustler’s University.’ Members are told they can earn up to £10,000 (AU$17,239) a month by following his steps to success, which includes lessons on crypto-investing and international legal documentation.
His global network of men, titled ‘The War Room’, reads like a cult, asking members to ‘be a man’ and ‘prove themselves’ in order to stay. He claims to be turning ‘boys into men’, but what he’s actually doing is turning them into potential abusers.
Tate’s dangerous beliefs are easily accessible to anyone who feels even remotely aligned with his ethos. Even if his subscribers are merely there to make money, they’ll inevitably be indoctrinated with his sexist beliefs, too.
The whole thing is leaving many, particularly women, with a sick feeling in their stomachs. At a time when we’re fighting to have our voices heard, our stories believed and our perpetrators held accountable, we have someone actively working to undermine all of our efforts.
As we know, these harmful beliefs exist on a spectrum, ranging from misogynistic banter with the boys to serious, violent crimes. If we don’t challenge these attitudes right from the start, we run the risk of spreading their rotting roots further. Tate’s views have been branded as extreme misogyny by domestic abuse organisations, who claim he is able to radicalize men and boys to commit harm offline. And, when such extreme beliefs are held, who is to stop anyone from acting on it?
Women are under threat, and we have been for generations. Men like Andrew Tate are making the world even more unsafe for women and girls who are already terrified of becoming another statistic. When the numbers clearly show that we have a global crisis on our hands, what kind of person would actively promote the very beliefs that created the crisis in the first place?
In 2017, Tate was permanently banned by Twitter for his comments surrounding rape, it’s been five years later, and Tate is exploiting a different app – only this time, his views are reaching a far wider (and younger) audience.
It’s long overdue for TikTok to follow suit.