Following the arrest of influencer Andrew Tate in Romania on suspicion of human trafficking and rape, social media was awash with memes and misinformation from people condemning and defending him.
Tate, 36, has more than 10 million followers across all platforms and has become a controversial figure on Twitch and YouTube, thanks to his extreme misogynistic statements. Videos of him on TikTok have been viewed more than 12 billion times, as of August 2022.
in a Press release Upon Tate’s arrest, Romanian law enforcement said Tate and his brother, Tristan, along with two Romanian citizens, recruited women “misrepresenting their intention” to have a romantic relationship, then moved and housed them in Romania. Police said the women were forced to create pornographic content for the group to sell online.
Romanian authorities said in the press release that they had been in contact with six alleged victims.
Tate has denied the allegations.
The charges follow a previously publicized research at Tate from the Romanian authorities, and Tate’s own statements about his business.
In a page since removed on his website, Tate wrote that he had become a “billionaire” through his “webcam studio” in Romania. The website page was 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 for quality, get her to fall in love with me to the point of doing whatever I told her, and then put her on the webcam so we could get back together. rich together,” the website read. A lawyer for Tate did not respond to a request for comment on the website’s description of her.
Despite the nature of the allegations and Tate’s history of making misogynistic statements, the news of Tate’s arrest has inspired a host of advocates for the influencer, who have used misinformation and conspiracy theories to question the validity of the charges. filed against Tate. The news has also inspired a wave of memes mocking the incident, some of which are based on pure speculation.
Perhaps the most pervasive viral speculation to spread following Tate’s arrest was that Romania’s organized crime agency, DIICOT, was able to locate the divisive figure thanks to a video Tate posted showing Romanian pizza boxes.
Tate posted the video of the pizza box amid a dispute with teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.
On Tuesday, Tate tweeted at Thunberg, referring to her “33 cars” and her “huge emissions.”
Thunberg answered on Wednesday, making a joke about Tate’s genitalia. In response to Thunberg, Tate tweeted the video that included the pizza boxes.
After Tate’s arrest, the posts quickly went viral, speculating that the pizza boxes in the video had been a major factor in locating Tate.
But Ramona Bolla, a spokeswoman for DIICOT, disputed that the pizza boxes had anything to do with Tate’s arrest. Bolla told the Associated Press that the rumor was “funny, but not.” Prosecutors said Tate and his brother had been under criminal investigation since April, according to Reuters, when police searched Tate’s Bucharest mansion in connection with human trafficking allegations.
Still, that didn’t stop misinformation from taking over Twitter and becoming meme fodder.
Adding to the online confusion over the details of Tate’s case, some Twitter users resurfaced old images of Tate and falsely claimed that he had been released.
A clip that has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter shows Tate in April 2022 after he was detained and released two days later. One of the tweets falsely read: “Andrew Tate got the Matrix Unleashed attack to fail.”
Another resurfaced clip with millions of views showed a segment of Tucker Carlson’s interview with Tate, falsely claiming that he had been released from jail. “ANDREW TATE and his brother have been released. NO CHARGES,” the tweet falsely claimed.
Tate’s Twitter account continued to post on Friday, including the tweet “The Matrix sent its agents,” which refers to Tate’s acceptance of “red pill” culture, which refers to the movie “The Matrix.” ” and celebrates anti-progressive positions. Some Twitter users pointed to the tweets as potential evidence that Tate had been released. Following Tate’s tweet, Twitter CEO Elon Musk posted a “Matrix” meme, which was later shared by Tate’s account. In November 2022, Elon Musk restored Tate’s Twitter account. Tate was banned in August 2022 after posting tweets saying women bear “some responsibility” for being raped. Musk and Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
An attorney representing Tate told NBC News that, as of the post, a judge had placed the Tate brothers on remand for 30 days, which would mean they would remain in custody or be offered bail. The attorney said his clients challenged the decision and Tate maintains his innocence.
Right-wing influencers with millions of followers who had previously focused on human trafficking as an issue reacted to news of Tate’s arrest by comparing it to a perceived lack of action in other cases, including that of Jeffrey Epstein, who died while waiting. the trial on federal child sex trafficking charges and reportedly housed a long list of high-profile people at his many properties. Some, including those who have defended or criticized Tate in recent months, have pointed out that Tate has yet to be convicted.
“Human traffickers deserve the death penalty,” tweeted Mike Cernovich, who has 1.1 million followers and who tweeted about visiting Tate in Romania and posting photos of them in September 2019.
“False accusations have been used to bring down critics of the system,” Cernovich added in the tweet. Cernovich did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Conservative YouTuber Blaire White tweeted: “Whether Andrew Tate is guilty or not, they skipped Jeffrey Epstein’s entire client list because he’s his enemy and the people on that list aren’t,” referring to the theoretical list of Jeffrey Epstein’s clients.
In a statement to NBC News, White said: “If Andrew Tate is guilty of human trafficking, I think he deserves a death sentence.”
Others posted or shared an interview clip of Tate predicting he would be arrested, while suggesting the circumstances surrounding his arrest were not legitimate.
“He is innocent until proven guilty. Not the other way. Waiting and seeing is always the smart move,” rapper Zuby Music, who has 1 million followers and conducted the interview alongside the clip, tweeted. The rapper tweeted in September 2022 that he knows Tate but that Tate is not his “hero” and that he has frequently promoted Tate’s content. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Twitch streamer Adin Ross, who has repeatedly appeared with Ross, tweeted asking President Joe Biden to “pardon” Tate and said that “Donald Trump would have been on it by now,” despite the fact that the arrest took place in Romania.
Some Twitter users baselessly suggested that Tate was being targeted after he said he had converted to Islam. In late October, Tate said publicly converted to Islam. In Al Jazeerawrote Yousra Samir, “rejection within the community, and especially from teachers and academics, is critical because Tate’s popularity represents a broader trend of red pill culture taking hold among some Muslim men.”
While some defended Tate in the midst of his arrest, others celebrated, mocked or commented on Tate’s arrest through memes.
On Twitter, many responded to Tate’s Twitter fight with Thunberg with jokes about the interaction and Tate’s arrest.
“It finally happened. Someone got so rationed they got arrested,” one person said. tweeted in response to the tweets and Tate’s arrest, referring to the ratio of comments to likes on a post.
another simply wrote“Mother Nature always wins,” along with a photoshopped image of Thunberg standing on Tate’s grave.
Drew Afualo, a content creator with nearly 8 million followers, posted a video that was about a minute long. video in response to the arrest. In the video, Afualo said that he saw the news about Tate’s arrest.
Throughout most of the video, Afualo laughed, pausing briefly to say, “What a way to end the year. Talk about a high note.”