TikTok targets young people with misogynistic content from Andrew Tate and more, report says
TW: This article contains mentions of sexual abuse and assault that some readers may find distressing.
A Observer An investigation found that TikTok was promoting misogynistic content to young people, including videos from online media personality Andrew Tate. Tate’s content has recently become hugely popular on the social media platform, with charities warning it is creating “dangerous cultures”.
Andrew Tate has previously said women are “a man’s property” and even said rape victims must “take naked responsibility” for their attacks. The Observer A survey found that TikTok’s algorithm promotes such content to young people via its “For You” homepage, despite claiming to ban it.
TikTok allows users to join its platform from the age of 13. In order not to be influenced by previous search history, a new account has been created for this survey. The page was created for an imaginary 18-year-old, using a fake name and a fake date of birth.
At first, the teenager’s account showed a range of content, including comedy clips and discussions about men’s mental health. After watching content that seemed geared towards male users – including a clip from the “Alpha Blokes” podcast and a clip from a TikTokker explaining how men “don’t talk about their feelings” – the algorithm started showing more videos that seemed to be suitable for men.
Without “liking” or searching for content, the “For You” homepage quickly began to suggest several Andrew Tate videos. After watching two of the videos, the account was recommended several more. The next time the account was opened, the first four videos were from Tate, from four different accounts. While the algorithm also suggested content from Dr. Jordan Peterson (a Canadian psychologist known for his right-wing views), men’s coaching videos, and videos from men’s rights activists, Tate’s content was by far the most widespread.
After reopening the app a week later, eight of the top 20 videos posted on the fake account were about Tate. Suggested clips included a video of the self-proclaimed ‘alpha’ saying that people seeking mental health support are ‘useless’. In another video, the 35-year-old says most men’s lives “suck” because they have “no power” and “no sex with their wives”. Tate also describes his own girlfriend as “very well trained” in another video posted on the 18-year-old’s fake account.
In other clips, Tate talks about hitting and choking women, ransacking their belongings, and stopping them from going out. “It’s hitting with the machete, jumping in her face and grabbing her by the neck. Shut up, bitch,” he says in a video, where he shows how he would attack a woman if she accused him of cheating.
Tate’s views have been described as extreme misogyny by domestic violence charities, who say the kickboxer and former Big brother the contestant is able to radicalize men and boys to do harm offline. Tate’s videos have been viewed 11.6 billion times, and several accounts have been created “in support” of the kickboxer’s views.
Callum Hood, head of research at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, said: “The danger is that this is very eye-catching content, and the TikTok algorithm in particular is so aggressive that you only have ‘to pause for a few moments before it starts recommending similar content to you again and again.
TikTok said, “Misogyny and other hateful ideologies and behavior are not tolerated on TikTok, and we are working to review this content and take action against violations of our guidelines. We are continually looking to strengthen our policies and enforcement strategies, including adding more safeguards to our recommendation system.