For former kickboxer and right-wing social media influencer Tate Andrews, the end of 2022 was far from a calm affair. What started as a provocative tweet to one of the world’s most famous climate activists may have inadvertently landed him in jail for running an human sex trafficking organization and rape.
So what’s the story? How does this play out on social media? And what are the hard numbers behind this strange tale?
Seemingly out of the blue, Andrews – a self-proclaimed misogynist and “hyper-masculinity” influencer, posted a photo on Twitter of his Bugatti, boasting that he owns 33 cars and their “enormous emissions”. His target? The young environmentalist Greta Thunberg, who was asked to “provide [her] email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective huge emissions”.
Her reply was nothing short of the Internet’s version of a roundhouse kick:
Her reply quickly went viral, racking up more than 3.9 million likes, quickly becoming one of the top ten most liked tweets in Twitter history. And it attracted attention – a LOT of attention.
In total, Tate and Thunberg were mentioned online 17.2 million times in the space of 24 hours, both by online media outlets and on social networks.
Volume of global mentions relating to the number of mentions pertaining to both Greta Thunberg and Andrew Tate on Twitter, December 27, 2022 – 11 January, 2022.
So it should come as no surprise that the Romanian police, who were already investigating Tate and his brother for operating a human trafficking operation from their estate, also took notice. Tate had left Romania, and the authorities had no idea where he could be. But if some online theories can be believed, after seeing the remnants of some Romanian pizza boxes in his video reply, authorities knew he was back in town.
They subsequently paid him a visit, where he was promptly arrested. He remains in jail to this day awaiting trial.
Thunberg’s viral reaction could have been expected. After all, she’s already trolled the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin (2019), former US President Donald Trump (twice in 2021), former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, former UK PM Boris Johnson (2021).
By all accounts, Thunberg came out on top in this exchange. Not only did she make Twitter history, she was also able to shine a light on numerous activist concerns: the continuing fight of climate activists to promote awareness of our polluting automobiles. Twitter saw a sharp rise in Tweets discussion “emissions, coupled with a accompanying peak in engagements.
Her takedown of Tate, who is a self-proclaimed “anti-feminist” who has been banned from numerous social media platforms for his violent and misogynistic rhetoric, was also a win for those fighting for women’s rights, putting the limelight on another important social issue that has gained widespread public attention in recent years. “Toxic Masculinity” saw a sharp rise in mentions as well, reaching 647.2k direct engagements on Twitter (colored in violet below).
Tweets mentioning “Feminist” and “toxic masculinity” saw a sharp rise in mentions.
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – Tate’s resulting arrest also highlighted the important but often less-discussed issue of human trafficking, as his victims were prevented from leaving his estate and forced to perform pornographic cam shows under the threat of violence. The exchange saw an explosion of posts mentioning “human trafficking”, resulting in one million posts and nearly 10 million direct interactions on these posts – almost all exclusively during period of the exchange.
Tweets concerning human trafficking reached 1 million during the Tate-Thunberg exchange.
All in all, Thunberg not only managed to put down this provocateur – she also spurred discussions surrounding issues that deserve attention. Not bad for a tweet that didn’t even mention any of these topics.
For the coup de grâce, following Tate’s arrest, Thunberg took the opportunity to promote responsible consumer behaviors:
Her tweet garnered 143.2 million views and 3.5 million likes.
By Sean Bertran, senior consultant at Antidox