There is no blanket ban against videos featuring Andrew Tate on TikTok, VICE World News understands, despite an account identified as belonging to the controversial content creator being permanently banned last week.
Last week the 35-year-old British American kickboxer was perma-banned from Facebook and Instagram for breaking parent company Meta’s policies on “dangerous organisations and individuals.”
Sources told VICE World News that TikTok had been looking into content from Tate for a while – the app has been highly criticised for platforming and recommending his content – and that independent of Meta’s move, an account belonging to Tate was removed.
But videos featuring Tate, who has been accused of promoting misogyny, uploaded by other people are everywhere on TikTok still: his name remains searchable on the app, with associated hashtags sitting on billions of views; #andrewtate has 13.7 billion views while #andrewtatemotivation has 163.6 million.
TikTok’s search bar, which is powered by AI that picks up on keywords used in on screen text and captions, is also still recommending his content.
VICE World News was recommended to click on “andrews tate” and “Tate motivation” after watching content featuring the kickboxer. While Tate is banned from having a TikTok account himself, there’s nothing stopping people from uploading videos featuring him, and they will only be removed from TikTok if they are found to violate the app’s community guidelines. VICE World News understands that TikTok is however using technology to identify duplicate clips of videos that have already been found to violate its guidelines on hateful ideology.
Nevertheless, Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, said TikTok wasn’t taking far-reaching enough action and that platforming any video featuring Tate was dangerous. “It’s the same strategy that’s used by anti vaxxers, white supremacists,” he said. “You post gateway content to drive through people to an ecosystem in which they’re radicalised.”
In the last couple of weeks, anti-extremism groups like Hope Not Hate have been leading a campaign to demand platform action over Tate who they describe as “a violent misogynist.”
Viral clips of him show him telling users that 18-year-old women are “more attractive than 25-year-olds because they’ve been through less dick”, and that women should “shut the fuck up, have kids, sit at home, be quiet and make coffee”. The popularity and controversy of his videos led to him boasting that he had more Google searches than Kim Kardashian.
Ahmed added that TikTok’s influence over social media platforms that are now all pivoting to vertical video has meant that views are being prioritised over moderation, and that Tate and his supporters had weaponised this to go viral. “TikTok’s editorial guidelines, whether set by humans or algorithms, have essentially said that something that generates outrage even when it contravenes standards in our societies will be prioritised,” he said. “They’ve allowed for people like Andrew Tate who has a deliberate strategy. They are normalising incredibly hateful ideas among young men – and that has an effect.”
Andrew Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition said: “We need to see social media platforms act on claims that they are committed to tackling harmful content including misogyny and violence against women. Whilst we welcome reports that content by Andrew Tate that violates TikTok’s terms and conditions have been banned from the platform, these videos should never have been so widely amplified by a platform that is ultimately profiting from the potential radicalisation of its young male users.”
In response to his Facebook and Instagram bans, Tate – who was banned from Twitter in 2017 – appeared on a Twitch stream saying that he was a “positive force” in content creation, adding: “It’s just a small minority group that have decided to purport lies, and try to falsify information about me, in a personal attack. To some degree… It’s flattering.”
A TikTok spokesperson said: "Misogyny is a hateful ideology that is not tolerated on TikTok. Our investigation into this content is ongoing, as we continue to remove violative accounts and videos, and pursue measures to strengthen our enforcement, including our detection models, against this type of content."