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YouTube has generated tens of thousands of pounds in revenue from videos recruiting for Andrew Tate’s controversial get rich quick business school, despite the manosphere influencer supposedly having been banned from the platform 18 months ago.The video-sharing giant made the admission amid scrutiny over its role in hosting recruitment videos for Tate’s The Real World online business academy, following a VICE News investigation last month revealing how the scheme relied on social media platforms to target and exploit his young fans.
While Tate pitched The Real World to his followers as an alternative to university that would make them rich quickly, critics said it functioned more like a pyramid scheme, with members tasked with working long hours, in a cult-like atmosphere, producing promotional videos to recruit others into the programme.READ: Leaving The Real World - How I escaped Andrew Tate’s get rich quick ‘cult’Those videos were posted on mainstream social media sites such as YouTube, TikTok and Instagram - despite the platforms having supposedly introduced a ban on Tate content in August 2022, in response to concerns over the influence of his hateful misogyny. After VICE News flagged them to the company in the wake of our investigation, YouTube has terminated a dozen large channels promoting The Real World - with more than 2 million subscribers and 1.3 billion views between them. A YouTube spokesperson confirmed that the two biggest channels terminated after being flagged by VICE News had carried advertising, generating revenue for the platform. The spokesperson would not specify the exact amount, other than it was less than £48,000 ($60,614). The total amount of ad revenue generated by Tate content could be even higher if other channels promoting Tate and The Real World are taken into account.
Experts in online extremism said the situation highlighted how, contrary to their hardline public stance against Tate, social media giants had been complacent when it came to actually keeping his content off their platforms. “Platforms have the means to tackle this, but seem to lack the will to do so,” Callum Hood, head of research at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, told VICE News.Hood said that YouTube and other platforms had allowed Tate’s content to continue to proliferate, because there was little incentive for them to take a stronger approach to moderating content that generated revenue.“There are powerful incentives at play for YouTube and they’re all pointing in the wrong direction,” he said. “Not only does high-engagement content like Andrew Tate’s videos generate revenue for the platform – but proper content moderation also costs money. It’s sometimes more profitable for YouTube to turn a blind eye and try to get away with the bare minimum.”YouTube did not directly respond to a VICE News request to account for why the Tate videos were able to be posted despite the supposed ban in 2022 on such content across the platform. A spokesperson instead said that the platform had committed significant time and money addressing harmful content, and that responsibility was good for its business.But Hood said that while in theory, Tate had been deplatformed from major social media sites since 2022, “in reality, we’ve consistently seen affiliate accounts like these popping up on all platforms to … push his image, his hateful rhetoric and his business ventures.”
READ: YouTube takes action on banning Andrew Tate’s ‘heir apparent’Researchers from the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that the two largest Tate-affiliated channels terminated by YouTube, considered to be key recruitment arms for The Real World, were both carrying advertising. The largest, which had more than 600,000 subscribers and had racked up more than 450 million views before it was taken down last month, posted videos that overtly featured Tate, even including his name in the video titles. These included videos, posted in December, titled “Andrew Tate's $100,000 Birthday Celebration” and “Andrew Tate - I'm Still Standing (Music Video).” Both those videos remain accessible on the platform, having been reuploaded to other YouTube channels since the monetised channels were terminated.
YouTube spokespeople did not respond to questions about whether the ad revenue from the videos was split with the Tate affiliates who ran the channels, as is often the arrangement with big channels. Nathan Pope, an Australian man who has been leading a campaign calling on tech giants to deplatform The Real World, said YouTube’s complacency in moderating the Tate content was indicative of a broader problem. Tech companies had generally ignored his complaints about The Real World until they were subjected to media scrutiny, at which point they had finally taken action - with Apple and Google removing an app version of Tate’s educational programme from their stores, and YouTube terminating Tate-related channels following VICE News inquiries.TikTok and Instagram, where The Real World recruitment videos are still widely posted, have not responded to VICE News inquiries outlining concerns about Tate’s programme, and do not appear to have stepped up their moderation of the recruitment content.“This is a systemic issue,” said Pope. “Social media platforms are willing to facilitate the blatant exploitation of children for profit. Something needs to be done.”