Twitter ignored its own rules to verify kickboxer who said women should ‘bear some responsibility’ for being raped

Twitter said Andrew Tate’s account was ‘verified in error’ despite the kickboxer being booted from the platform two times before

Adam Smith
Tuesday 25 January 2022 11:56
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Twitter verified the account of an infamous kickboxer it had already banned, as the social media company appeared to ignore its own rules.

Andrew Tate, who controversially said that women should “bear some responsibility” for being raped, has used at least three accounts on the platform.

Twitter explicitly bans people with suspended accounts from creating new ones to circumvent those restrictions. When Mr Tate made a new account, however, he was not suspended but instead verified - suggesting that Twitter was completely aware of Mr Tate’s identity when he created the new account and broke the social media site’s rules.

Mr Tate had used three accounts - @OfWudan, @Cobratate, and @MasterfulPo - between 2017 and 2022. All three accounts have been suspended for a “violat[ion of] the Twitter rules”.

The @Cobratate account was active until around October 2017, according to webpage captures by archive site archive.today; the @OfWudan account was active until August 2021, and the @MasterfulPo account was active until 18 January 2022.

Twitter’s rules state that users “can’t circumvent a Twitter suspension [or] enforcement action”, which includes “permanently suspend[ing] any other account we believe the same account holder”.

It continues: “You can’t circumvent a Twitter suspension, enforcement action, or anti-spam challenge. This includes any behavior intended to evade any Twitter remediation, such as creating a new account or repurposing an already-existing account.”

It encourages users to appeal its account suspension to its team “instead of creating a new account”.

Circumventing a temporary suspension will result in a permanent suspension “at first detection”, Twitter says, but it is unclear how this could be accurate as the @MasterfulPo account was verified - and as such required either Twitter to already know who Mr Tate was, or his submission of personal information.

Mr Tate’s verified account, prior to Twitter’s suspension

Twitter’s verification tag requires a user to be “associated with a prominently recognized individual or brand”, or a user must submit an official website, ID verification, or an official email address. As such, it is unlikely that Twitter did not know the identity of Mr Tate when verifying him.

Mr Tate gained notoriety in 2016 as a housemate on the 17th season of the television show Big Brother before being removed after a video emerged that appeared to show him beating a woman with a belt. Mr Tate claimed that the actions were consensual.

One year later, amidst the Harvey Weinstein scandal, he tweeted: “Sexual harassment is disgusting and inexcusable. However. A man looking at you or whistling at you or asking your name isn’t harassment” from the @Cobratate account.

“Women have been exchanging sex for opportunity for a very long time. Some did this. Weren’t abused”, he continued.  if you put yourself in a position to be raped, you must bare [sic] some responsibility. I’m not saying it’s OK you got raped”.

He continued to say that “with sexual assault they want to put zero blame on the victim whatsoever.” The tweets have since been removed due to his account suspension.

Mr Tate initially declined to comment further than disavowing two other accounts - @iron_mentality and @of_wudan - that appeared to be associated with him contacted by The Independent.

However, following publication of this article he said: I don’t agree with being banned, people get banned from Twitter all the time and make new profiles. I’m not inciting violence, promoting terrorism or harassing anyone. This is censorship of free speech. I’ve never had specific tweets banned or been cautioned.”

The site includes links to “the greatest global network which exists on planet earth” and claims to help people get rich.

It also includes a ‘PhD program’ on “all male-female interactions”, where Mr Tate claims that the success of a webcam studio he runs is due to the fact that “over 50% of all my employees were actually my girlfriend at the time” and that his job was “to get women to fall in love with [him]”.

Mr Tate’s now-suspended account also appeared to have been in a promotion with Bugatti. The Independent has reached out to Bugatti for comment but did not receive a reply before time of publication. A spokesperson for Mr Tate said that he and his brother had purchased the car outright, and was not part of a paid promotion.

Twitter has a history of arbitrarily suspending its users, including in cases where on-the-ground reporting is vital. In May 2021, it suspended Palestinian-American writer Mariam Barghouti who was reporting on the expulsion of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.

The social media site initially said that it had restricted the account because of a violation of Twitter’s Media Policy, but later said that it “took enforcement action on the account you referenced in error” and had since reversed it. Despite numerous requests for comment, including from The Independent, Twitter has steadfastly refused to explain what grounds those were.

Conversely, Twitter has taken drastic steps to stop account evasion. After suspending Donald Trump, Twitter forbid another account that was tweeting “on behalf” of the then-president for violating its policies.

“As stated in our ban evasion policy, we’ll take enforcement action on accounts whose apparent intent is to replace or promote content affiliated with a suspended account,” a Twitter spokesman said at the time. It remains unknown why different action was taken in this instance.

Mr Tate declined to comment further than disavowing the @iron_mentality and @of_wudan accounts when contacted by The Independent.

In a statement, Twitter said that Mr Tate’s account was “verified in error and has since been permanently suspended”. It also said it was “continuously examining our processes and procedures on verification, and continue to review verified accounts on an ongoing basis to ensure that they still meet our criteria”. Twitter did not provide more information about how the error occurred.

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