Mark Zuckerberg meets Andrew Tate.

by Pseud O'Nym

Until yesterday I never knew why Andrew Tate was suddenly in the news. Sadly, now I do and my life is none the better for it it. I read an article about him in spiked, and wished I hadn’t. If you wish to, be my guest but be aware that he combines the charm of a snarling Rottweiler with the wokeness of Bernard Manning. As far as I’m concerned, not to the sort of bloke who embodies qualities, attitudes and values that a man should have in this, let alone day and age.

But maybe I’m wrong, maybe now is exactly the time for hateful misogyny, maybe there is an audience for unique blend of violent and crass consumerism and ridiculous posturing. After all, Last month, there were more Google searches for Andrew Tate than for Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian combined. As of last week, he had 4.7million followers on Instagram – a huge jump from the one million he had in June. And on TikTok, videos tagged with Tate’s name had been watched an astonishing 12 billion times up until last week. Clearly, he appeals to some. Quite why this so baffles me, but that isn’t the point.

What is the point is that Facebook, Instagram and TikTok and now You Tube have all banned him. But this isn’t borne out of some moral repugnance or some other high-minded virtue. No, all of them have equivocated and claimed their rules weren’t broken when allowing other, more extreme, more hateful and more offensive materials to remain on their platforms. Rather, it seems to me, that He has committed the grievous sin of using their business model, which monetarizes the content its users generate, makes him and them money, and in so doing, has shown what truly matters to them. Not so much profit before principles but profits being principal.

In an attention economy, the one in which they operate, causing offence can be like hyper-inflation. And offence is a bit like pornography, difficult to define but we know it when we see it. Whats offensive to one may not be to another, so it’s a bit hypocritical for these huge corporations to suddenly develop a moral line in the sand, as it would be for Richard Desmond to suddenly become outraged of Tunbridge Wells.

A few years ago, shortly after the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo by Islamic terrorists who thought that an appropriate way to object to some cartoons they didn’t like was to shoot dead some of their staff, I wrote the following; “Free speech is easy to defend when you agree with what the person is saying or writing, but less so when you find what they’re expressing offensive. That is the dichotomy of free speech. If you believe in it you have to believe that it applies to everyone or else it applies to no one. As Voltaire said “I may not agree with what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.

Yes, I find Andrew Tates opinions as reported offensive, but the more offensive something is, the greater the obligation to defend the principal of free speech. I haven’t seen myself what has been banned but I chose not to see it, the decision was mine and mine alone and free speech means extending that choice to everyone, regardless of how they exercise it. Censorship is worse than the thing being censored but in this new digital world of ours, some speech is freer than others, especially when profits are involved.