Teachers have been urged to listen out for children talking about a “dangerous”, controversial influencer when schools return from the summer holidays.
Former kickboxer and multimillionaire Andrew Tate had his Instagram and Facebook accounts removed after sharing his misogynistic and offensive views online and for running Hustlers University – a pyramid scheme which claims to teach people how to become rich.
Before his Instagram account was taken down, he had racked up more than four million followers and while he does not have his own official account on TikTok, and has been banned from ever having one, content posted under the hashtag Andrew Tate has been viewed more than 13 billion times.
A charity Sky News spoke to said that the content they are most worried about is still online.
He first rose to fame in 2016 for being removed from the reality TV show Big Brother after a video appeared to show him attacking a woman with a belt – a clip he claims was edited.
Since then, he has gained further notoriety on sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok for his offensive comments, including some in which he suggested rape victims “bear some responsibility” for being attacked and others where he refers to women as “property” belonging to men.
He has also described how he would violently assault a woman for accusing him of cheating, saying he would “bang out the machete, boom in her face and grip her by the neck”.
As a result, concerns have been raised about the influence he is having on young people, particularly young men.
English teacher, Kirsty Pole, went viral on Twitter after urging fellow educators to be aware of Tate and the “dangerous, misogynistic and homophobic abuse”.
Speaking to Sky News, Mrs Pole said some responses to her tweet were “really shocking” and she has heard from primary school teachers who have already spoken to children as young as 10 about Tate’s harmful views.
“He’s a name that teachers are becoming more aware of, definitely,” the 34-year-old said.
“Schools generally these days tend to be quite welcoming, very inclusive, very nurturing spaces… I think people like him want to take us back to the fifties or the sixties.”
She added that she is concerned young boys are particularly vulnerable to Tate’s extreme views, saying: “They already don’t know who they should be, if they’re allowed emotions, if they’re allowed to cry or if they need to ‘man up’.”
What should you look out for?
Amid her warning about Tate, the Leicestershire-based teacher has urged parents and teachers to pay close attention to what young people are talking about with their peers.
“Listen to what they are talking about because you will learn more from listening to them, than you will by trying to do your own research into every single misogynist that’s on the internet,” she said.
She added that “the biggest indicator” of children being influenced by Tate is if they begin to use misogynistic language.
“There’s a lot of specific language in the so-called manosphere. Comments like, she’s whipped, or he’s wet, there’s a lot of language around it,” she said.
“It’s a lot more about language that young people are using with each other, that’s the main indicator.”
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In recent years, teachers have been provided with more training around safeguarding and radicalisation, but Mrs Pole believes training around misogyny should be introduced.
“There isn’t enough yet around misogyny. There needs to be more out there. There’s still work for us to do on that, definitely,” she said.
A government spokesperson said: “We have made Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) a compulsory part of the school curriculum and have published guidance for schools on how to be alert to issues such as misogyny and gender stereotypes.
“We have also provided resources to help teachers deliver this curriculum with confidence, and work closely with schools, councils and other experts to understand and address the effects of damaging social media trends.”
What has Andrew Tate said about his views?
While Tate did not respond to requests for a comment by Sky News, in a live event with Twitch streamer Adin Ross on Friday, he was asked about comments by teachers on Reddit suggesting he is influencing their students into making misogynistic comments.
He replied: “I know that’s not the case, a lot of things that have been taken and chopped up and thrown online are things from a very long time ago when I didn’t have a fraction of the influence I have now. I’m not apologising for them, I’m not even saying they are intrinsically wrong.”
He added that he has “launched an initiative to donate money to a charity aimed at protecting women against domestic violence”.
He also issued a statement, saying he denied he held misogynistic views and accused his critics of “twisting facts”.
“It is very unfortunate that old videos of me, where I was playing a comedic character, have been taken out of context and amplified to the point where people believe absolutely false narratives about me,” the statement said.
“Internet sensationalism has purported the idea that I’m anti-women, when nothing could be further from the truth. This is simply hate mobs who are uninterested in the facts of the matter, trying to personally attack me.
“The media is spinning a false image of me, on repeat, and Instagram bowing to pressure is a massive shame.
“I have nothing but positivity to spread regarding all people, whether male or female, and this has been reflected in all of my recent messaging and posts.”
‘Most harm’ is happening on TikTok – despite being banned
YouTube became the latest platform to ban his profile on Tuesday for breaching its rules on hate speech.
A spokesperson told Bloomberg that channels associated with Tate had been removed because of “multiple violations” of YouTube’s community guidelines and terms of service, including its hate speech policy.
“If a channel is terminated, the uploader is unable to use, own or create any other YouTube channels,” the statement said.
Campaign group, Hope Not Hate had been calling for the bans but has also been focused on videos of him posted by other profiles on TikTok and YouTube.
The group welcomed the moves, but the organisation’s director of research told Sky News the content they’re “most worried about” is still online and “most harm” is happening on TikTok.
“TikTok say they are removing content that breaks its terms of service, so the content that is explicitly misogynistic is removed… but the issue for us is that not all of his content reaches the threshold for banning,” Dr Joe Mulhall explained.
A TikTok spokesperson said: “Misogyny is a hateful ideology that is not tolerated on TikTok. We’ve been removing violative videos and accounts for weeks, and we welcome the news that other platforms are also taking action against this individual.”
Tate also regularly features in clips discussing topics such as money, cars, cigars, or other general subjects.
However, Dr Mulhall warned that because of this, people are “sucked” into the aspirational lifestyle he presents and then move into consuming wider content about him, which includes “misogyny, homophobia and anti-multiculturalism”.
“I’ve never seen a kind of social media star that’s so toxic and so extreme become so massive,” he said.
“I think the harm that has been done in the last six months by Andrew Tate online is going to take years to unpick.”
Tate has also defended the far right campaigner Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, better known as Tommy Robinson, appeared in a podcast with American far right influencer Mike Cernovich and featured on InfoWars, a podcast by Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist who recently lost a court case over the Sandy Hook school shooting in the US.
Research by Hope Not Hate has described him as a “close associate of the far-right extremist” Tommy Robinson and claims he has a “long history of close association with a variety of far-right figures in the UK and America”.
“Tommy Robinson did a livestream yesterday (Sunday) afternoon and on it there were comments saying ‘I’m here because of Tate’, so we’re even finding concrete examples of Andrew Tate supporters finding themselves on his livestreams and that’s really terrifying,” Dr Mulhall added.
“We’re talking about the violent misogyny because that’s really dangerous, but he’s also tied into these networks that some young people are going to end up engaging with.
“All of a sudden, you’re introducing this whole new audience to these far right extremists.”
Does Spotify have a problem with hate speech?
In one clip, Tate describes Tommy Robinson as a “solid guy” and says he has “hung out” with him “untold times”.
“Without getting too deep into the politics of it, because you know, I’m not saying I disagree with him or agree with him, but I tell you something, he’s a solid guy, he means what he says, he’s got a good heart, he’s honest, and I think what the establishment is trying to do to him is extremely unfair.”
The latest research by the UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, showed using video-sharing platforms (VSPs), such as YouTube or TikTok, was the most popular online activity among children aged 3-17 (95%); while the majority chose to watch content on VSPs and 31% posted content they had made themselves.
Among all types of online platforms, YouTube was the most widely used by children with 89% using it, compared to half using TikTok, but TikTok was more popular for posting content, it added.
Sky News has contacted Andrew Tate and YouTube for a comment.