Explore the shockwave arrest of Andrew Tate; unravel ensuing conspiracy theories. Learn facts, speculation, and the reality behind the headlines.
Analyses by the British Observer newspaper show that in the hours following his arrest, TikTok and Twitter were filled with posts falsely claiming that he had been released, as well as conspiracy theories claiming that he had fallen into a trap.
Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Digital Hate, said, "The spread of conspiracy theories that could jeopardize the safety of the investigation is unreasonable."
Andrew Tate, 36, a British American online personality known for his anti women views, was arrested with his brother Tristan in Romania on December 29, 2022, as part of an investigation into human trafficking, rape, and organized crime.
An investigation by the Observer in August 2022 revealed that the TikTok platform was heavily promoting his content, including to children and young people. Members of Tate's academy went online to deliberately post controversial clips in an attempt to boost engagement and manipulate algorithms.
After his arrest last week, a statement from the prosecution alleged that four people, including two Britons, were suspected of being part of a criminal group that exploited women sexually after luring them with promises of a relationship.
It was alleged that the women were subjected to "physical violence and psychological coercion through intimidation, constant surveillance, control, and alleged debt claims" and were forced to shoot pornographic videos. Six possible victims have been identified.
No further details have been announced about the specific allegations against Andrew Tate, and on Friday it was confirmed that he would spend the next thirty days in custody, while the investigation into organized crime and terrorism in Romania continues.
Significant support on social media
On social media, thousands of supporters have already reached their verdict. Without evidence, Tit's fans on TikTok and Twitter claimed that he is innocent of all charges. One wrote on Twitter, "People lie because they hate Tit. I'm absolutely sure that Tit is innocent."
Others blamed "The Matrix" for trapping Tit. This was fueled by Tit himself in a tweet he posted after news of his arrest, saying on Friday, "The Matrix sent its agents."
Since the release of the science fiction film in 1999 about people living in a simulation, where a man is given the choice to take a red pill and "wake up," the metaphor has been frequently reused in conspiracy theories. It has also been used by online fringe groups using the term "red pill" to mean waking up to the "reality" of male subjugation by feminism.
On the Twitter platform, where Andrew Tit has over 4 million followers after his previous account was restored in November, many tweets used the #Pizzagate hashtag a theory predating QAnon that claimed top Democrats were behind a child sex abuse ring. These tweets suggested that Tit was being used as a scapegoat for child sex trafficking groups.
In a recently recorded video, Andrew Tate appeared in front of the camera with a pizza box in front of him after a Twitter dispute with climate activist Greta Thunberg. Some speculated that it was a signal to a conspiracy. One Twitter user wrote, referring to Elon Musk: "They want to cover up Pizzagate using Andrew Tate."
Other accounts shared old videos that suggest Tate's acquittal, despite him remaining in custody. One video, which was viewed 780,000 times on Twitter by Saturday, purported to show his release from detention. The caption read: "Andrew Tate has been released. The Matrix attack failed."
So who is Andrew Tate?
The fierce defense of Tate and the spread of misinformation since his arrest add to concerns about the impact on any future legal action, raising questions for social media platforms that helped push him to prominence.
Tate is 35 years old, a former professional kickboxer, businessman, and content creator who offers an online course on modern wealth creation. In an interview about his personal wealth, Tate revealed: "I was broke for a long time, and I made my first million when I was 27. By the time I was 32, I had 100 million."
In 2016, he appeared on the show "Big Brother," but was quickly removed after a video surfaced of him hitting a woman with a belt. Tate claimed at the time that the video was doctored, but his attitudes towards women have further tarnished his reputation.