Andrew Tate has gained more than six million followers in the five months since his Twitter account was reinstated.
His profile spiked in popularity after he was detained in Romania and when he was put under house arrest.
The controversial influencer had 38,400 followers when his profile was brought back to the platform in November. Now, Tate has more than 6.4 million followers.
The popularity of Tate’s profile may be bringing in serious income for Twitter, with researchers estimating the platform could earn almost £10m in advertising revenue a year from Tate-generated traffic.
He was banned from the platform towards the end of October 2017 after posting inflammatory tweets, including one now-deleted post that said: “Next point, if you put yourself in a position to be raped, you must bare some responsibility. I’m not saying it’s OK you got raped.”
A number of banned accounts have been reinstated by Twitter CEO Elon Musk. Tate was among those brought back on 18 November 2022.
The influencer marked his return by posting a photo of himself.
His account went from less than 40,000 followers to one million within 48 hours, archived screenshots of Tate’s account show.
Tate’s profile has continued to grow in popularity: a month on from his account being reinstated, his follow count had almost hit three million followers.
Tate, a British-US citizen, was arrested on 29 December in Romania and faces allegations of sexual assault, exploitation, organised crime and human trafficking – all of which he denies.
Hundreds of thousands of users decided to follow Tate that day. His follower count rose from 3.4 million to 3.8 million in 24 hours. He hit four million followers by 31 December.
His popularity spiked again after he was taken out of prison and put under house arrest on 31 March. He gained half a million followers that day.
At the time of writing, Tate has 6.4 million followers, meaning that on average Tate has gained around 40,000 followers a day since 18 November.
The rate at which Tate has gained followers appears to be unusually high.
Jordan B Peterson is another controversial online figure who was suspended from Twitter but brought back by Mr Musk on the same day as Tate.
He had three million followers when he was brought back and now has 4.1 million.
Another comparison can be made with climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was embroiled in a high-profile Twitter argument with Tate at the time of his arrest.
Between 29 December and 5 December, Tate’s profile gained almost a million followers. Ms Thunberg gained 600,000 in the same time period. Today her follow count stands at 5.8 million, having been outstripped by Tate.
The follower account of some high-profile users are inflated by bots, which are automated profiles that can be either purchased to artificially boost a profile’s popularity or may be present without the person’s consent or knowledge.
Changes to some of Twitter’s technology under Mr Musk means that researchers are now unable to test for suspected bots on the same scale as before, meaning it is not possible to check Tate’s entire follower list for bots.
But free software from Norton, a cyber-protection company, enables users to see in real time whether a Twitter profile may be a bot, with users highlighted in red being suspect.
Sky News ran the BotSight software over the first 100 profiles that recently followed Tate as a small sample.
Around half appeared to be genuine accounts, a quarter were questionable and a quarter were suspicious. None are confirmed as bot accounts.
Tate’s popularity on Twitter may be bringing in significant money to the platform, according to the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).
The centre’s research, shared exclusively with Sky News, found that Twitter stands to make an estimated £9.8m a year in advertising revenue from Tate’s account alone, prompting researchers to argue this could be why controversial accounts have been allowed back on the platform.
Callum Hood, CCDH’s head of research, told Sky News: “Twitter has made a deliberate decision to reinstate Andrew Tate – and many other extremist accounts – for business reasons.
“Because it is the only mainstream platform where you can still find Andrew Tate’s personal account, it has now become a must-see attraction for his cult-like following.
“By simply offering him a platform, Twitter is giving him all the legitimacy and exposure he needs to attract an army of new followers.”
The CCDH found that Tate’s tweets generate an estimated average of 35 million “impressions” a day (how often a tweet is seen), based on more than a month’s worth of his postings.
They used this data, along with their research into how often adverts appear and how much Twitter adverts cost, to estimate Twitter’s potential Tate-related earnings.
Tate’s other social media accounts are not seeing the same level of popularity as his Twitter.
He is currently still banned from Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, although a recent Sky News investigation found his content was pushed to a “test” teenager’s account after a little more than an hour on YouTube Shorts.
The influencer still has two channels on Rumble, a free-speech video streaming platform. The more popular one has 1.16 million followers and has only gained 295,000 followers in the time Tate has been back on Twitter.
Social media expert Matt Navarra explained to Sky News why there is such a big difference in Tate’s follower count on the two social media platforms.
He said: “Platforms like Rumble and others have much, much smaller users bases and are considered to be alternative social platforms which are only of appeal to those with fringe interests. It’s kind of like a second home for those that have been banned everywhere else.
“It’s no surprise to me that you won’t have seen such an explosive growth there compared to somewhere like Twitter that’s got hundreds of millions of users and is considered by most the mainstream, broad-appeal and broad-interest social platform.”
Sky News attempted to contact Twitter’s press office in relation to this article. The company did not reply, only sending an automatic email containing a poo emoji in response, which is the current default reply to all messages to the press office.
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