Controversial influencer Andrew Tate has been arrested in Romania as part of an investigation into allegations of human trafficking and rape. Is it the end of his online influence?
“Yeah I have around 30 cars now, I don’t sell them because I don’t need money so what’s the point in selling them… ”Andrew Tate
If you happen to come across one of Andrew Tate’s videos on Twitter or Tiktok, you might mistake him for just another influencer. He’s tall and muscly with a shaved head and lots of tattoos. You’ll usually find him in sunglasses, puffing on a cigar, wearing a kimono and posing in front of his extensive collection of super cars and private jets.
But Andrew Tate is more sinister than he seems at first glance..
“So I think my sister is her husband’s property yes..”Andrew Tate
Andrew Tate has tens of millions of devoted followers – most of them teenage boys and young men in their twenties. To them, he is a modern guru; a bright light, speaking the truth.
A toxic truth.
“Masculine life is war. If you’re a man who doesn’t view life as war you’re going to lose. As a man you have to wake up and think “Okay, everything I want other men want, I have to out-compete every other man to get it. So how am i going to do that?”Andrew Tate
The sheer size of his following, and their impressionable age, means Andrew Tate quickly became one of the most powerful and dangerous men on the internet.
But now he’s been arrested.
“This is Big Brother, due to events in the outside world, Andrew has had to leave the Big Brother house.”Channel 5 Youtube
That was the moment in 2016 when Andrew Tate was removed from the Big Brother house after a video emerged of him hitting a woman with a belt.
After that he latched onto the emerging MeToo movement, which highlighted the extent of sexual abuse and violence against women. Andrew Tate referred to women as “property” and said they should bear “some responsibility” if they’re sexually assaulted. Back then, he had 24,000 followers.
Then, in 2017, he was banned from Twitter for misogyny; Tiktok and Youtube did the same in 2022. But this only boosted his profile. Andrew Tate got support from the far-right: he appeared on InfoWars with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones…
“The big thing is he’s pro free speech and isn’t afraid to stand up against all the platforming. He’s got courage most don’t have good to have you here…” “Absolutely it’s a pleasure to be here, Alex.”InfoWars Youtube
Then, last summer – seemingly out of nowhere – hundreds of his videos flooded social media…
“We practised what to do if a girl comes at you. “You cheated, you cheated.” BANG! Out comes the machete, boom in her face, and grip her up by the neck.”Andrew Tate
But they weren’t being posted by Andrew Tate, because he was still banned.
A self-declared trillionaire, Andrew Tate runs an online school which offers courses on things like cryptocurrency trading, which people think can make them a lot of money. He calls it Hustlers University. It charges £39 a month and has over 100,000 members – some of them as young as 13.
“I’ve got a guy who says he’s 13, and I don’t know he’s actually 13 or not but he says he is and he’s making 10 grand a month.”Andrew Tate
In a coordinated effort, Andrew Tate directed thousands of his pupils to create accounts in his name, using his photograph and including his hashtags. They were encouraged to edit videos of him to highlight his most controversial comments:
“If you were about to get on a plane, and that plane was going to fly through a hurricane. And there’s a 50/50 chance of it crashing and dying, would you want a man or a woman driving?”Andrew Tate
The videos got boosted by social media algorithms because they were being posted by lots of different accounts and at the end of August last year, clips tagged with his name had been watched more than a billion times.
But being controversial online and running an online school offering dubious courses wasn’t Andrew Tate’s only source of income. He had set up a number of other, murkier businesses when he moved to Romania in 2017…
At the beginning of this year Andrew Tate was led out of another house. Not belonging to Big Brother, but his own.
“Now the online influencer Andrew Tate has been detained in Romania as part of a human trafficking and rape investigation. Mr Tate was arrested, as was his brother Tristan, when his house was raided in the capital Bucharest.”BBC News
He was detained as part of an investigation into an “organised crime group with the purpose of recruiting, housing and exploiting women by forcing them to create pornographic content meant to be seen on specialised websites for a cost.” Authorities have spoken with six women who say they were victims and police found weapons and cash when they raided his home. He’ll be detained until the end of January.
But his toxic views live on in impressionable young minds and online.
Since his arrest, Andrew Tate’s Twitter account, which was reinstated after Elon Musk bought the company, has continued to post content to his more than 4 million followers.
As long as he has an audience of millions of young, unhappy and disenfranchised men, charismatic people like Andrew Tate will always have an influence.
This episode was written and mixed by Rebecca Moore.