The deplatforming of Andrew Tate

Internet personality and former boxer, Andrew Tate, was deplatformed from social media sites for misogynistic and sexist remarks.

The deplatforming of Andrew Tate

Drew Oldham, Contributing Writer

Action taken around the presence of Andrew Tate, internet personality and former 2-time ISKA professional kickboxing champion on social media platforms has restarted controversy around social media censorship. This issue regained relevance in the public sphere last week when Meta formerly known as Facebook, Instagram and Youtube made a concerted effort to ban Andrew Tate and his affiliated accounts from their platforms.

These companies follow a precedent set by Twitter, which banned Tate’s account in 2017 after he tweeted that women should “bear some responsibility” for being sexually assaulted. 

 His followers view him as a brazen leader of a counterculture movement working to restore “traditional masculinity” in modern society. His supporters, who are mainly male adolescents and young adults, feel that he embodies values that restore the idea of traditional masculinity including a remarkable physique, lucrativity, advocacy for a more traditional view of gender roles, and unshakeable confidence in the face of challenge. 

GC associate professor of philosophy Sabrina Hom attributes a large part of Tate’s rising popularity among this demographic to the fact that he fills a niche. He provides advice to young men whose desires and preferences fall in line with a more traditional idea of the male role. These traditional ideas are often reverted to times of social, political and economic unrest in an attempt to restore order and comfort to an anxious society. 

“I think we often see this historically, at moments of social unrest or change, financial pressure, and instability such as that created by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Hom said. “When you have these kinds of stresses, folks look in a lot of different directions for comfort and one of the directions people will look is towards figures that restore an idea of traditionalism.”

His adversaries seem to concur with the idea that Tate is a product of the fear created by the pandemic and other shifting societal and financial paradigms. They illustrate Tate as a predatory figure who has adopted an extremely right-wing agenda that openly advocates for racism, homophobia and misogyny.  

This negative view of Tate’s overall message arises from multiple videos of Tate that appear to demonstrate his unwavering support of militant sexism. Tate has previously said that he is “absolutely a misogynist” and “you can not be rooted in reality and not be a sexist.” 

A coalition of organizations such as Hope Not Hate and Women’s Aid united in response to these comments to get him censored. They felt that allowing these comments to remain online normalized misogyny and violence towards women. 

UK-based advocacy organization Hope Not Hate believes Tate’s message is affecting his malleable audience of young men. 

In a statement given to the Washington Post, “The effect that Tate’s brand of vitriolic misogyny can have on the young male audience is deeply concerning…we also know that misogyny can be a gateway to other extreme and discriminatory views.” This group played a large role in successfully deplatforming Tate.

According to Adam Lamparello, GC Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, the rise of Tate is concerning, especially given the general trend of people on both sides of the political continuum looking to more biased and fanatic people for the information that ultimately shapes their opinions. Lamparello provides a harsh evaluation of Tate’s message.

 “He (Tate) has said some absolutely horrible things about women particularly pertaining to sexual assault,” Lamparello said.

Tate’s rise to fame, despite his troubling message, demonstrates a potential design flaw in the construction of the algorithms that are employed by social media platforms. Social media algorithms are designed in a way that prioritizes continued interface with the app. To increase the likelihood that users will continue to interact with the application, algorithms ensure people who demonstrate a strong emotional reaction to a video will see similar videos. This has the potential to strengthen the beliefs of Tate’s supporters and further electrify the environment around issues like misogyny. 

It is hypothesized that Tate exploited this vulnerability within the algorithm to manufacture his rise to popularity. He did so by offering a quid pro quo price reduction to subscribers of his online financial advice program, Hustler’s University, in exchange for subscribers creating proxy accounts that flooded social media sites with videos of Tate. The nature of these videos led to strong emotional reactions from viewers of them which increased their interaction with these videos, which led to Tate’s ubiquitous presence on these applications.

This strategy proved to be very effective as Tate’s Tik Tok account grew from 1 to 4.4 million followers since June 2022. This exponential increase in the popularity of Tate’s account speaks to an alarming trend toward individuals with extremely polar opinions occupying a disproportionate amount of the media landscape concerning how much of the physical population they make up.

Evidence of Tate’s rise in popularity can be shown by the fact that he has popped up on many GC students’ social media accounts. Exposure to videos of Tate has led to a variety of opinions on his message. Anson Wessner, GC sophomore and accounting major finds some aspects of Tate’s message to be beneficial to men while acknowledging many aspects of it are repulsive.

“Andrew Tate personifies toxic masculinity and provides a great counterbalance to the emasculation of men in today’s society,” Wessner said. “While controversial and perverse at times, he provides advice to keep men self-motivated.” 

Bailey Parker, a sophomore English major provides a much more critical take on Tate’s message, feeling that he objectifies women in a way that overrides any use that message could have to men. 

“I do not understand how someone can only look at women for sex. How would this Tate guy feel if he was just seen as an object? Women are people, not objects” Parker said. 

In speaking on his censorship, Tate claims to be a victim of unrighteous free speech censorship that has been skewed towards censoring spokespeople for the right wing. Lamparello strongly disagrees with this claim. 

“Andrew Tate does not fall into the category of people who can claim they have been unfairly censored,” Lamparello said. “These are private companies with the right to ban whoever they want, and he has violated their community guidelines.”   

The decision to blacklist Tate appears to be well based on concrete violations of previously enacted community guidelines on the social networking sites that have banned him. According to Tiktok spokespeople, clips of Tate present on their application shamelessly encourage violence towards female sexual partners and misogyny, which is a clear violation of their community guidelines, which restrict a person’s right to advocate for violence directed against a particular group. 

Although these companies are enforcing community guidelines that were created long before Tate’s emergence on the platform, this decision remains controversial. This controversy could be due to its occurrence in a time where all events around social media censorship incite strong emotions from opposing viewpoints on the matter.