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How social media profits off sexism

Yes, the first term we will use in this article is the dreaded name you’re thinking of; Andrew Tate. Thanks to the misogynistic, bigoted idiot, a bunch of British influencers inspired by the man’s hate speech have emerged all over TikTok and YouTube – and said platforms are profiting. 

Here’s a delightful example (note heavy sarcasm); Connor Prankerd, 27, from Caerphilly, Wales, runs a TikTok channel called Masculine Empowerment. In one video he says: “An insecure girlfriend is a well- behaved one. Never allow her to become too comfortable. When a woman becomes too comfortable in a relationship, everything suffers — her weight, her attitude, her sex drive, her co-operation […] women who are just a little insecure, meaning they understand very clearly that they can and will be replaced if their man decides to, are much better behaved.

Prankerd charges £7 for his online dating course and has 2.6 million likes on TikTok. Yep, over two and a half million people (that’s the size of Greater Manchester’s population) liked that type of content. 

So, how exactly do TikTok and YouTube make money from this? Well, these platforms make most of their money through advertising. TikTok estimated that its revenue for 2022 was $12 billion (or about £9.9 billion). YouTube reported $28.8 billion in revenue in 2021.

One theme that has become popular is content made by people describing themselves as “men’s rights activists”. Honestly, while researching this I found many examples that almost brought me to tears. I’d rewrite them but that above comment is enough for me and quite frankly, I refuse to give them the screen time. 

Instead, let’s look at who is combating and warning against this behaviour and the British internet wave of what can quite possibly be described as terrorism among women. Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, said: “For some years now we have been warning that misogyny is a gateway to violence and radicalism among young men and the need to recognise how this hatred drives crimes against women and girls in the same way we do for other forms of abuse.
“The government must use the opportunity of the public harassment legislation currently in parliament to go further and address this before more women suffer the consequences of the failure to act on this hatred.”

Charities including Glitch and End Violence Against Women have written to the government requesting amendments to the Online Safety Bill, which is working its way through the Commons. They want to see the bill changed to make technology companies accountable for failing to address violence and abuse against women.

Glitch said: “What we hear is that men who are looking for content on important self-help issues end up looking at this harmful content. We do see how it goes from mental health support to violence.”

Last year Jake Davison, 22, shot and killed five people in Plymouth before fatally shooting himself. He subscribed to incel-related content, a community of young men who consider themselves unable to attract women sexually. Social media platforms thrive from this type of content. The numbers show it’s making them money and therefore they won’t turn it off; essentially they’re choosing profit over women’s safety. Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, put it brilliantly, saying; “Tech platforms are ultimately profiting from the sharing of this content, so, until they are forced to, they won’t stop promoting it. We know there are links between online misogyny and abuse with offline violence, including the rise in traffic to misogynistic ‘incel’ online communities and a reported increase in rapes of women using dating apps. Much of this material promotes behaviours that constitute coercive control, which is illegal.”

Additionally, womens’ safety campaigner Karen Whybro has spoken out of TikTok’s lack of progression and protection; “TikTok is not doing enough. When it blocks accounts there is nothing that prevents the person from making another account and continuing their abuse.”

As for what the platforms say themselves, TikTok said: “Misogyny is a hateful ideology that is not tolerated on TikTok. We continue to remove any such content that violates our community guidelines and regularly evaluate and improve our processes to help keep TikTok safe for our community.” YouTube declined to comment.

Do better. 

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