Following the arrest of influencer Andrew Tate in Romania on suspicion of human trafficking and rape, social media has been flooded with memes and misinformation from people condemning and defending him.
Tate, 36, has more than 10 million followers across the platforms and has become a polarizing figure on Twitch and YouTube thanks to her extreme misogynistic statements. As of August 2022, his videos on TikTok have been viewed more than 12 billion times.
In a news release about Tate’s arrest, Romanian law enforcement said Tate and his brother Tristan, along with two Romanian nationals, “misunderstood their intentions” and recruited women for romantic relationships, then housed them in Romania. Law enforcement said the women were forced to create pornographic content to sell online to the group.
Romanian authorities said in a news release that they were in contact with six of the alleged victims.
Tate has denied the allegations.
The charges follow a previously publicized investigation of Tate by Romanian authorities and Tate’s own statements about his business.
On a page that has since been removed from his website, Tate wrote that he became a “multi-millionaire” with his “webcam studio” in Romania. Web page archived at the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
“My job is to meet a girl, go out for a few days, sleep with her, test her quality, make her fall in love with me where she does what I say, and then put her on webcam. Let’s get rich together,” reads the website. A lawyer for Tate did not respond to a request for comment on her website profile.
Despite the nature of the allegations and Tate’s history of making misogynistic statements, the news of Tate’s arrest emboldened defenders of influencers, who used disinformation and conspiracy theories to question the validity of the allegations leveled against Tate. The news has also sparked a wave of memes poking fun at the incident, some of which are based on pure speculation.
The most common piece of viral speculation that circulated in the wake of Tate’s arrest was that Romania’s organized crime agency DIICOT was able to track down the divisive figure thanks to a video of Tate showing Romanian pizza boxes.
Tate released the pizza box video amid a feud with teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.
On Tuesday, Tate tweeted at Thunberg, referring to her “33 cars” and their “enormous emissions.”
Thunberg replied On Wednesday, he joked about Tate’s genitalia. In response to Thunberg, Tate tweeted a video of pizza boxes.
After Tate’s arrest, the footage quickly went viral with speculation that the pizza boxes in the video were a key factor in finding Tate.
But DIICOT spokeswoman Ramona Polla denied the pizza boxes had anything to do with Tate’s arrest. Polla told The Associated Press that the rumor was “funny, but not.” Prosecutors said Tate and his brother have been under criminal investigation since April, when Tate’s Bucharest mansion was raided by police over human trafficking allegations, according to Reuters.
However, that hasn’t stopped misinformation from taking over Twitter and becoming fodder for memes.
Adding to the online confusion surrounding the details of Tate’s case, some Twitter users reposted old footage of Tate, falsely claiming that he had been acquitted.
A clip, which has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter, shows Tate being detained in April 2022 and released two days later. One tweet incorrectly stated “Andrew Tate freed Matrix attack failed”.
Another reposted clip with millions of views showed part of Tucker Carlson’s interview with Tate, who falsely claimed he had been released from prison. “Andrew Tate and his brother have been released. No charge,” the tweet falsely claimed.
Tate’s Twitter account continued to post Friday, including a tweet that read “The Matrix sent their agents,” referring to Tate’s embrace of “red pill” culture, a reference to the movie “The Matrix” and celebrating anti-progressive positions. Some Twitter users pointed to tweets as possible evidence the date was published. After Tate’s tweet, Twitter CEO Elon Musk posted a “Matrix” meme that was shared by Tate’s account. In November 2022, Elon Musk revived 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 a request for comment.
An attorney representing Tate told NBC News that a judge remanded the Tate brothers for 30 days, meaning they must remain in custody or face bail, according to the release. The attorney said his clients contested the decision and that Tate maintained his innocence.
Right-wing influencers with millions of followers previously focused on human trafficking compared the news of Tate’s arrest to the lack of action in other cases, including that of Jeffrey Epstein, who died while awaiting trial. He is said to have offered a laundry list of high-profile figures on federal child sex trafficking charges and several of his properties. Some, including those who have supported or campaigned for Tate in recent months, noted that Tate has yet to be punished.
“Human traffickers deserve the death penalty,” tweeted Mike Cernovich, who has 1.1 million followers. who tweeted about She also posted photos of them visiting Tate in Romania in September 2019.
“False allegations have been used to bring down critics of the establishment,” Cernovich added in the tweet. Cernovich did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Conservative YouTuber Blair White tweeted, “Andrew Tate is guilty or not, they omitted the entire Jeffrey Epstein client list because he is their enemy and no one on that list,” referring to a theoretical list of Jeffrey Epstein’s clients.
“If Andrew Tate is convicted of human trafficking, I believe he deserves the death penalty,” White said in a statement to NBC News.
Others posted or shared an interview clip of Tate predicting his arrest, while the circumstances surrounding his arrest were not legitimate.
“Innocent until proven guilty. There is no other way. Wait and see is always the smart move,” tweeted rapper Juby Music, who has 1 million followers and conducted an interview with the clip. The rapper tweeted in September 2022 that he knew Tate, but Tate was not his “hero” and that he often promoted Tate’s content. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Twitch streamer Adin Ross, who appeared repeatedly with Ross, tweeted that President Joe Biden was “sorry” Tate and “Donald Trump would have been on it already” despite his arrest in Romania.
Some Twitter users unfoundedly suggested that Tate was targeted after she said she had converted to Islam. In late October, Tate publicly stated that he had converted to Islam. In Al-Jazeera, Yusra Samir wrote, “Incitement from the community – particularly from teachers and scholars – is critical, as Tate’s popularity reflects a broader trend of red pill culture among some Muslim men.”
Some defended Tate when he was arrested, while others celebrated, mocked or commented on Tate’s arrest through memes.
On Twitter, many responded to Tate’s multi-day Twitter feud with Dunberg with jokes about the connection and Tate’s arrest.
“It finally happened. Someone was arrested at a very hard rate,” one person said He tweeted that Refers to the ratio of comments to likes on a post, in response to tweets and Tate’s arrest.
The other is simple wrote“Nature Always Wins” with a photoshopped image 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, Affulo said he saw news of Tate’s arrest.
For most of the video, Afualo smiled, pausing briefly to say, “What a way to end the year. Talk about a high note.