More than an hour after viewing the video on YouTube Shorts, Andrew Tate’s content was pushed to the account of a 13-year-old boy — whose profile did not look for any clips of the controversial influencer.
Sky News set up a fake account of a teenage boy to see if YouTube Shorts, Instagram and TikTok would promote videos featuring the character Tate Or his brother Tristan spontaneously.
Although Andrew Tate was banned from all three platforms, our investigation found that nearly 30 videos with Tates Served to “Ollie Smith”‘s account on YouTube Shorts within two hours.
Once the first two Tate videos appeared on Ollie’s screen, a host of other Tate videos appeared on the fictional teenager’s feed.
Sometimes, Tate’s videos played one after the other, or with just one or two clips in between.
The number of videos showing Tate content on YouTube Shorts is significantly higher than that on Instagram Reels, and it does not appear on TikTok.
As a result of our investigation, YouTube removed at least nine accounts that used Tate content to provide Ollie feeds.
The Tate brothers, both known for their controversial online comments, have been in a Romanian prison since late December, facing charges of sexual assault, exploitation, organized crime and human trafficking. Brothers are set free, under house arrest April 1st. The pair have denied any wrongdoing.
The moment the algorithm changes
The brothers first appeared on Ollie’s YouTube Shorts Feed in a video of Andrew Tate fighting another influencer in a professional game.
This happened after spending 1 hour and 12 minutes on the platform, with the video being viewed in the one-hour session.
About 15 minutes or 32 videos later, a second similar Tate clip plays.
Afterwards, the algorithm appears to have changed significantly.
Ollie received a lot of Tate video, and the gaps between clips got smaller.
The yellow bars in this graph represent every Tate video Ollie watched within an hour, and the gray bars represent other videos.
After the break, Ollie continued to watch the Tate video until the end of the experiment, which was limited to a three-hour roll.
Later Tate videos often featured more mature themes and controversial points of view.
These include Andrew Tate talking about how he removed a woman who worked for his sex webcam business from his house, threw her clothes out the window and withheld her wages. Another feature is him talking about manipulating his girlfriend with money.
The YouTube Shorts videos came from 19 different accounts, seven of which provided multiple videos to Ollie.
The vast majority of these accounts are entirely or almost entirely dedicated to Andrew and Tristan Tate’s content, often using usernames that pay tribute to Andrew. Almost all of them focus on making YouTube Shorts videos rather than longer traditional YouTube videos.
In total, these accounts uploaded more than 1,600 Shorts videos, 198 of which had more than 1 million views. Three of the accounts had more than 20 million video views.
Sara McCorquodale, chief executive and founder of influencer intelligence firm CORQ, told Sky News that the accounts could earn up to six figures from their most-viewed videos if enough views were generated within 90 days.
“People are creating these cash cow accounts because there’s a clear hunger for Andrew Tate content, and that’s what generates revenue on YouTube,” she explained.
“YouTubers have succeeded by responding to demand with supply. I imagine there may also be an element of opportunism to this. Channel creators are keen to see Andrew Tate as a potentially addictive cultural phenomenon while it lasts. “
Some of Tate’s videos appear to be tailored for younger audiences through the use of “split-screen technology.”
This is when the screen actually splits in two and shows two different videos at the same time, such as the video of Andrew Tate speaking above the gameplay video.
A recent Ofcom report highlighted this type of video as an example of how children are drawn to online videos “that appear to be designed for maximum stimulation but require the least amount of effort and attention”.
Tim Squirrell, head of communications at the Strategic Dialogue Institute, told Sky News: “Andrew Tate has been very effective in leveraging algorithms across a variety of different platforms, YouTube Shorts being the latest one.”
He said Tate found a way to encourage “a bunch of boys” to post his content on social media by luring them with the money they could earn from advertising bounties for the clips.
He believes that TikTok has put some work into improving their platform after reviewing the issue, but YouTube Shorts has been trying to quickly replicate the short video format that made TikTok popular.
“[It hasn’t been] After extensive testing, their content moderation is not up to par, and their algorithm is a little bit variable in how aggressively it optimizes for what it thinks you want,” he explained.
Tate account deleted after Sky News investigation
Sky News told YouTube about its findings, with a spokesperson saying: “YouTube has strict policies against hate speech and harassment, and we remove content that targets or threatens individuals or groups based on protected attributes such as gender identity.”
YouTube terminated nearly half of the accounts Sky News flagged to the platform, adding: “We terminated the channel associated with Andrew Tate for multiple violations of our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service, including our hate speech policy. If a channel is terminated, the uploader cannot use, own or create any other YouTube channels.”
Sky News also found five other accounts that provided content to Ollie went offline before contacting YouTube. It’s unclear if they have been removed or if they were removed.
Ollie Smith’s accounts have also been set up on Instagram and TikTok, social media platforms favored by 13-year-olds in the UK.
Algorithms for Instagram and TikTok
YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels display short videos and, like TikTok, use an algorithm to decide which videos to promote in a user’s feed.
While no Tate videos were provided to Ollie on TikTok, toward the end of the investigation he received two Andrew Tate videos on Instagram Reels.
The clip shows Andrew Tate giving advice on how to manipulate and control women.
Callum Hood, head of research at the Center to Combat Digital Hate, recalled the Sky News investigation and said: “These findings suggest that social media algorithms are still giving Andrew Tate a huge boost on some platforms, helping his content Reach out to young audiences.”
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He added: “The combination of controversial content and weapons rating algorithms means Andrew Tate’s extremist messages are being seen by billions of people around the world.
“Despite his arrest and partial deplatforming, his popularity among young people lives on, and his followers are now flooding social media with a counter-narrative that paints him as a victim of a conspiracy. His views are Women hate it deeply, and there is a real risk they could lead to real-world violence.”
Andrew Tate: Snapshot of controversial influencer’s estimated earnings revealed
While Ollie isn’t automatically offered videos on TikTok, Sky News then tested what would happen if Ollie did search for influencers after the teen’s dynamic investigation was complete.
Search for “Andrew Tate” on TikTok, and there are a lot of Tate videos. These included an account calling for Tate to be released from prison, which was subsequently deleted by TikTok after Sky News contacted the platform for comment.
The search results came with a clear warning about hateful content and a link to Andrew Tate’s Wikipedia.
However, these warnings do not appear when typing “Cobra Tate” (Andrew Tate’s nickname), nor do they appear when Tristan Tate or Andrew Tate’s first name is misspelled.
A search on Instagram and YouTube also turns up some Tate videos, as well as suggestions for news content and quotes from the British influencer.
Both Meta and TikTok, which own Instagram, say they take misogynistic and hateful content on their platforms very seriously.
A Meta spokesperson told Sky News: “Working with women’s safety experts, we have strict rules against gender-based hate, sexualized or misogynistic language, and threats of sexual violence, and as soon as we become aware of this, we will Take action.” Andrew Tate was banned from Facebook and Instagram last year, and we’re working to improve our technology to avoid recommending his content.
“We will also continue to focus on ensuring teens have a positive and age-appropriate experience on Instagram, which includes limiting the amount of sensitive content they see.”
A spokesperson for TikTok said: “Misogyny is a hateful ideology that TikTok does not tolerate. We dedicate significant resources to finding and removing content of this nature that violates our policies. We have also taken several steps to help Our community informed situational options, including launching a search intervention – so that anyone searching for a specific word or phrase related to Andrew Tate or misogyny is reminded of the dangers of hate language.”
how we investigate
It’s important that surveys mimic teens’ behavior on these apps so our results reflect reality and not produce artificial results.
We created a profile of a boy aged 13 as this is the minimum age allowed on the platform, despite recent Ofcom research showing that almost all children aged 3 to 17 (96%) watch videos on video sharing sites and apps ,Pass – Pass simple minimum age application requirements.
Guided by Ofcom’s research into what social video content is popular with this age group, Ollie either ‘likes’, watches or skips the video. The more popular a piece of content is, the more we like it. This means Ollie is watching prank or game videos in their entirety and giving them a “Like”, but skipping videos that don’t fall into any of his favorite categories.
We also make sure Ollie is active on the platform on weekends or after “homework” and dinner, like a real 13 year old. He was also limited to three one-hour sessions, reflecting how many teens’ screen time is limited by their parents.
We also want to make sure that algorithms are not unduly influenced. We used a blank phone reset to factory settings, it is for experimentation only. Nothing in Ollie’s username, details or even profile photo would have influenced the algorithm to steer towards a particular topic.
this Data and Forensics The team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to delivering transparent news coverage from Sky News. We collect, analyze and visualize data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting techniques with advanced analysis of satellite imagery, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling, we aim to better explain the world while showing how our journalism is done.
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