Controversial influencer Andrew Tate lost his appeal this week to end his detention in a Romanian prison.
Tate and his brother Tristan have been detained in Romania since late December, along with two other suspects, and will now be held until February 17 on charges of rape and human trafficking.
However, despite his arrest, the former kickboxer still attracts the loyalty of his millions of followers as his social media accounts are still active.
Hashtags such as #FreeTopG and references to ‘Matrix’ opposition have flooded social media since the influencer’s arrest, raising concerns about the hold Tate has over his fans – mainly young vulnerable men.
After losing his attraction, he tweeted, “Even if you feel powerful every day, some days you will feel more powerful than others… Beat the average man’s best day to your worst.”
After leaving the court he went on to say: “Ask them for evidence and they won’t give you any because there is no such thing. You will soon learn the truth of this matter.’
However, Julia Ebner, a counter-terrorism adviser at the UN and senior research fellow at the anti-hate organization Institute of Strategic Dialogue, said Andrew Tate is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to misogynistic and sexist influencers.
Ms Ebner explained that Tate is an example of how extremist ideas are now becoming mainstream.
“Andrew Tate is just one example of many,” Ms Ebner told me The independent.
“We are almost in an era where mainstreaming extremist ideas has become easier and faster and there is a greater demand to fill a vacancy of frustration, fear and loneliness, especially among the younger generation who are facing this in the aftermath of Covid.”
Ms Ebner said Tate is “definitely” just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to online personalities building online communities.
“We have seen that there are many people who have spread many ideas similar to Andrew Tate. His ideas are the ones we read about in the headlines, but when we look at platforms like 4Chan, Telegram, even YouTube commentary, we see that these views are much more widespread and he’s just one of the increasingly strong segments of the population is in the world. UK,” Ms. Ebner said.
Ms Ebner, an expert on countering far-right terrorism, said many “copycat Andrew Tates” are using alternatives to YouTube, such as Bitchute and Odyssee, and alternatives to Twitter, such as Gab, Parler and Truth Social, to promote big tech hate speech policies. and spread misogynistic and violent rhetoric against women elsewhere.
She added that since Donald Trump’s presidency and the 2015 Gamergate scandal, where groups of gamers launched an online harassment campaign against feminism, diversity and progressivism, there has been a surge in the manosphere — interconnected online misogynistic communities.
Even on larger platforms, Ms Ebner says removing hateful content is a “cat and mouse game” for companies as more and more influencers step up as such characters see the success of the likes of Andrew Tate and an opportunity to make a build audience, make money and get millions of views.
“White supremacy and misogyny are not new ideas. But they have been rebranded and repackaged by these influencers. They present it as something counter-cultural and cool for the younger generations who are rebelling against the status quo of current liberal policies,” Ms Ebner said.
She continued: “We are no longer looking at doing research in secretive hidden forums, we are now looking at mainstream figures like Andrew Tate who can influence society and politics.
“He’s spreading ideas that could change how we view women’s rights and progressive policies in general.”
The UK children’s charity, NSPCC, has also expressed concern about Andrew Tate’s impact on children and young men.
Rani Govender, an online child safety policy officer at the NSPCC, warned that “sexist content” from Tate and similar influencers “defines boys’ attitudes and behavior” and further harms girls both online and in school.
Mr Govender said: “It is critical that the online safety law is reinforced with a code of conduct against violence against women and girls to ensure that sites do not reinforce sexism and gender-based abuse.
“Companies’ failure to combat misogynistic abuse highlights the need for senior technology executives to be held personally accountable for the safety of girls on their sites and held accountable if they cause serious harm.”
In a snapshot of an NSPCC helpline service call, a parent said, “I am calling about my 17-year-old son. I’ve noticed his behavior has been changing lately; he seems to have a strong dislike for women. For example, he often refers to girls as “b******” and that men are essentially the superior gender.
“He spends all his time on his phone, like any teenager, and I’m afraid he’s being radicalized by what he’s watching online. I’m not sure what sites he’s looking at, but he mentioned an Andrew Tate guy, who I’ve seen who has millions of followers. This is not the kind of person I want my son to look up to. I haven’t spoken to anyone else about this and I don’t want to get any agencies involved at this point – I suppose I’m just looking for some advice.”