Andrew Tate’s arrest inspires misinformation, memes and defenders online

After Romanian influencer Andrew Tate was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and rape, social media was flooded with memes and misinformation from people accusing and defending him.

Tate, 36, has more than 10 million followers across all platforms and has become a polarizing figure on Twitch and YouTube thanks to his outrageously misogynistic posts. As of August 2022, his videos on TikTok have more than 12 billion views.

In a press release announcing Tate’s arrest, Romanian law enforcement said Tate and his brother Tristan, along with two Romanian nationals, recruited women under false pretense of a romantic relationship, then moved and housed them in Romania. According to law enforcement, the women were then forced to create pornographic content for the group to sell online.

Romanian authorities said in a press release that they were in contact with six alleged victims.

Tate denied the allegations.

The charges follow a previously announced investigation by Romanian authorities into Tate and allegations made by Tate about his business.

Andrew Tate was pulled over by police in Romania on December 29, 2022.
Andrew Tate was pulled over by police in Romania on December 29, 2022. Via Observator Antena 1 / AP

In a now-deleted page on his website, Tate wrote that he had become a “multi-millionaire” through his “webcam studio” in Romania. The website page is archived at the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

“My job was to meet a girl, go on a few dates, sleep with her, test her quality, get her to fall in love with me, get her to do whatever I told her, and then get her on webcam. we could get rich together,” the website said. Tate’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment on her website description.

Despite the nature of the allegations and Tate’s history of making misogynistic statements, the news of Tate’s arrest inspired many defenders of the influencer, who used misinformation and conspiracy theories to question the validity of the allegations against Tate. The news also inspired a wave of memes poking fun at the story, some of which were based on pure speculation.

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Perhaps the most widespread piece of viral speculation following Tate’s arrest was that Romania’s anti-organized crime agency DIICOT was able to find the divisive figure through a video of Tate showing Romanian pizza boxes.

Tate posted the video of the pizza box as the teenager sparred with climate activist Greta Thunberg.

On Tuesday, Tate tweeted Thunberg about her “33 cars” and their “enormous emissions.”

Thunberg answered on Wednesday, joking about Tate’s genitalia. In response to Thunberg, Tate tweeted a video featuring pizza boxes.

After Tate’s arrest, speculation quickly spread online that the pizza boxes in the video were an important factor in finding Tate.

But DIICOT spokeswoman Ramona Bolla denied the pizza boxes had anything to do with Tate’s arrest. Bolla told The Associated Press that the rumor was “funny, but not.” Prosecutors say Tate and his brother have been under investigation since April, when Tate’s home in Bucharest was searched by police in connection with human-trafficking allegations, Reuters reported.

Still, that hasn’t stopped misinformation from taking over Twitter and becoming fodder for memes.

Adding to the online confusion over the details of Tate’s case, some Twitter users retweeted old footage of Tate, falsely claiming that he had been exonerated.

One clip, which has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter, shows Tate being arrested in April 2022 and released two days later. One tweet falsely claimed that “Andrew Tate Released Matrix Attack Failed”.

The clip, which has been revived with millions of views, shows part of an interview Tucker Carlson had with Tate, in which he falsely claimed he had been released from prison. “ANDREW TATE and his brother have been released. NO FEE”, – was falsely stated in the tweet.

Tate’s Twitter account continued to post on Friday, including a “The Matrix has sent its agents” tweet, which glorifies Tate’s embrace of “red pill” culture and anti-progressive positions in reference to The Matrix. Some Twitter users pointed to the tweet as possible evidence of Tate’s release. Following Tate’s tweet, Twitter CEO Elon Musk posted a “Matrix” meme and then shared it on Tate’s account. In November 2022, Elon Musk reinstated Tate’s Twitter account. Tate was banned in August 2022 after tweeting that he had “some responsibility” for the rape of women. Musk and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Tate’s attorney told NBC News that a judge ordered the Tate brothers to remain in custody for 30 days from the date of publication, which means they will either remain in jail or be offered bail. The attorney said his clients protested the decision, and Tate pleaded not guilty.

Right-wing influencers, who already have millions of followers focused on human trafficking, reacted to the news of Tate’s arrest by comparing it to the paucity of cases in other cases, including that of Jeffrey Epstein, who died while awaiting trial. was accused of federal child sex trafficking and held a laundry list of high-profile individuals at many of his properties. Some, including those who defended or took to the platform in recent months, noted that Tate has not yet been convicted.

“Traffickers deserve the death penalty,” wrote Mike Cernovich, who has 1.1 million followers. who tweeted about In September 2019, they visited the Tate in Romania, along with posting their pictures.

“False allegations were used to discredit critics of the establishment,” Cernovich added in a tweet. Cernovich did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Conservative YouTuber Blair White tweeted: “Andrew Tate guilty or not, they completely missed Jeffrey Epstein’s client list because he is their enemy and the people on that list are not,” referring to a theoretical list of Jeffrey Epstein’s clients.

“If Andrew Tate is guilty of human trafficking, I believe he deserves the death penalty,” White said in a statement to NBC News.

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Others have posted or shared an interview clip of Tate predicting his arrest, but saying the circumstances surrounding his arrest were not legal.

“Innocent until proven guilty. Not vice versa. Wait and see, it’s always a smart move,” tweeted rapper Zuby Music, who has 1 million followers, and gave an interview along with the clip. The rapper tweeted in September 2022 that he knew Tate, but that Tate was not his “hero” and frequently promoted Tate’s content. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Twitch streamer Adin Ross, who has appeared with Ross several times, asked President Joe Biden on Twitter to “pardon” Tate, saying that despite his arrest in Romania, “Donald Trump was already there.”

Some Twitter users said the targeting of Tate was unjustified after he said he had converted to Islam. In late October, Tate publicly announced his conversion to Islam. In Al Jazeera, Yusra Samir wrote: “Support from within the community, and especially from teachers and academics, is crucial because Tate’s popularity represents a wider trend of red pill culture among some Muslim men.”

While some defended Tate’s arrest, others celebrated, mocked or commented on Tate’s arrest through memes.

Many on Twitter responded to Tate’s days-long Twitter spat with Thunberg with jokes about their relationship and Tate’s arrest.

“It finally happened. “Someone was arrested so violently,” said one person tweeted in response to the tweet and Tate’s arrest, based on the ratio of comments to likes on the post.

Other simple wrote“Mother nature always wins,” along with a photoshopped photo of Thunberg standing over Tate’s grave.

Drew Afualo, a content creator with nearly 8 million followers, posted a roughly one-minute long video in response to the arrest. In the video, Afualo said he saw the news about Tate’s arrest.

For most of the video, Afualo laughs and pauses to say, “How to end the year. Talk about a high note.”



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