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Student Blog Series: Andrew Tate’s Rhetoric Is Not Just On Twitter: Video Game Streaming As A Potential Trafficking Venue

Posted: March 28, 2023

Following Andrew Tate’s arrest in December, there has been plenty of conversation surrounding him. A Rolling Stone article posits that Tate’s fans see the allegations that he has been trafficking women as “window dressing” for his larger message that men deserve to feel empowered and in control of their lives, and that these allegations could merely be misunderstood examples of his call for men to maintain power and control in a world that would otherwise leave them feeling powerless. But Tate’s arrest has caused some of his supporters to double-down, even taking his messages to other platforms.

One ardent supporter is video game streamer Adin Ross. Ross has made a name for himself in the e-sports world, livestreaming himself playing popular video games like Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K on platforms like Twitch and YouTube. But Ross is not just a fan of Tate – according to an interview with Full Send Podcast, he considers him a friend. Tate apparently agrees because he named Ross as one of five people, and the only non-family member, allowed to visit him while he is in detention in Romania, according to a now-deleted Tweet. The two apparently connected online and began streaming together on Twitch, having conversations where Tate offered Ross advice about his physical and mental health. In February, Ross was permanently banned from Twitch. Although the reason was not released, some suspect his relationship with Tate played a role in the seven prior temporary bans from the platform.

The world of video game livestreaming primarily exists on Twitch, a platform focused on connecting content creators and their fans. Audiences can interact with streamers through chats, and even be invited to join the streams themselves. But the community can be exclusive and divided over who should belong. Female Twitch streamers regularly face disparaging comments, sexual harassment, and threats of violence. Some women have capitalized off of being sexualized by selling jars of bath water and their farts. In 2021, several female streamers began hosting livestreams where they broadcast from hot tubs and pools while wearing swimsuits. These streams prompted controversy for “sexualizing” the platform, leading users to call for Twitch to ban this style of streaming. Ross, as a formerly influential figure on Twitch, weighed-in on these conversations. Notably, the language Ross used when calling for the content to be banned mirrors Tate’s views on limiting porn consumption.

But it’s possible that more than Tate supporters and misogynistic talking points are circulating on Twitch. Following the revelation of multiple cases of misconduct by members of the streaming community in recent months, the platform is currently cracking down on potential avenues of exploitation. Earlier in the year, Twitch streamer, Atrioc, accidentally revealed a browser window that showed a website where he was buying and viewing deepfake porn of fellow Twitch streamers. Deepfake includes AI generated images and videos to digitally edit one person’s face onto another’s body, which can then be used to artificially create sexual content without the depicted people’s consent. Unfortunately, the victims don’t have much legal recourse because the content is legal and not yet subject to any regulation. It is, however, banned on Twitch.

In addition to deepfake porn, Tate’s alleged method of trafficking may be starting to appear on Twitch. In early March, popular streamer, Pokimane detailed an incident where an industry insider pretended to have a personal relationship with her to manipulate her followers into eventually forming a relationship with him and send him explicit photos of themselves. Similarly, late last year, streamer Amouranth, who also releases content on OnlyFans, shared that her husband uses abusive tactics to force her to stream. Though it does not appear any legal action has been taken in either case, it shows how this form of predation can take hold without ever being in front of a camera. The majority of Twitch’s users are young men, and given the way this demographic has flocked to Tate, these trends are all the more concerning. As we have mentioned in other pieces, platforms like Twitch bear some responsibility in policing harmful content, but young men also should take care to reject and combat misogyny in the communities they love.

This piece is part of our first-year law student blog series. Congratulations to author Sydney Sanders on being chosen!

All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University. 

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