Andrew Tate’s ‘The Real World’ App Banned by Google Amid Claims It’s a Pyramid Scheme

Andrew Tate’s ‘The Real World’ App Banned by Google Amid Claims It's a Pyramid Scheme

The app, which is rated as suitable for 4 years and up on the App Store, is heavily promoted at teenagers, and features a “gamified” design intended to appeal to young people. A website promoting The Real World specifies that there is no age limit to membership, promising potential recruits that they can “shock your family and friends by becoming someone who is levelling up in real life, instead of doing that in a video game.”

But critics say that, rather than empowering young people with valuable tools to achieve financial independence as it claims, The Real World’s true function appears to be as a pyramid scheme, whose members generate wealth principally through recruiting more recruits into the network.

Nathan Pope, a 34-year-old Australian, launched an online petition in July calling for app stores like Google Play and the App Store, as well as the companies that process online subscription payments to The Real World, to cease working with the site on the grounds that it appeared to be an illegal pyramid scheme financially exploiting vulnerable young men and boys. It’s gathered more than 9,000 signatures so far.

He told VICE News that while he was happy to see “Google’s response to the exploitation of The Real World app,” he was “shocked by Apple’s apparent lack of response or care.” 

“If they are being complicit in these potential crimes, it is important that the public is made aware.”

He told VICE News that the “training” provided through The Real World was of little value and similar to material that was widely available for free on YouTube and other platforms. Instead, the true purpose of The Real World appeared to be to function as a giant pyramid scheme, generating income for its owners and users mainly by recruiting new members to the site.

The app, which is rated as suitable for 4 years and up on the App Store, is heavily promoted at teenagers, and features a “gamified” design intended to appeal to young people. A website promoting The Real World specifies that there is no age limit to membership, promising potential recruits that they can “shock your family and friends by becoming someone who is levelling up in real life, instead of doing that in a video game.”

But critics say that, rather than empowering young people with valuable tools to achieve financial independence as it claims, The Real World’s true function appears to be as a pyramid scheme, whose members generate wealth principally through recruiting more recruits into the network.

Nathan Pope, a 34-year-old Australian, launched an online petition in July calling for app stores like Google Play and the App Store, as well as the companies that process online subscription payments to The Real World, to cease working with the site on the grounds that it appeared to be an illegal pyramid scheme financially exploiting vulnerable young men and boys. It’s gathered more than 9,000 signatures so far.

He told VICE News that while he was happy to see “Google’s response to the exploitation of The Real World app,” he was “shocked by Apple’s apparent lack of response or care.” 

“If they are being complicit in these potential crimes, it is important that the public is made aware.”

He told VICE News that the “training” provided through The Real World was of little value and similar to material that was widely available for free on YouTube and other platforms. Instead, the true purpose of The Real World appeared to be to function as a giant pyramid scheme, generating income for its owners and users mainly by recruiting new members to the site.

This was facilitated through The Real World’s “affiliate marketing program,” through which members were required to aggressively promote Tate and his site by flooding sites like TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube with repurposed Tate video content along with a distinctive sign-up link attached, getting 48 percent of sales commission from every new recruit to the site that joined through their link.

“They’re scamming vulnerable kids,” said Pope, who said he first became concerned about the app after content promoting Tate and his site became unavoidable on social media, mainstreaming Tate’s notoriously misogynistic ideology in the process. 

“To me, it’s a pyramid scheme,” said Pope, who said a friend had succumbed to Tate’s worldview, and was highly resistant to Pope’s arguments to the contrary.

Jack Beeston, an associate at McCue Jury & Partners, a law firm handling a civil case brought by women in the UK who say they were abused by Tate, agreed that The Real World was arguably a pyramid scheme – one which was potentially being used to fund criminal activity, such as the exploitation Tate was accused of in Romania.

“Historically, Apple has been very strict about what apps it agrees to publish and has taken a moral stance on,” he said. “It is hard to see what the justification is for The Real World to remain on the platform.”

One site promoting The Real World says the affiliate marketing strategy has been incredibly successful, and credits it as the reason Tate has become internationally famous.

“Tate was the 1st person who did this kind of unique content strategy on social media platforms,” says the site. “Tate became the most famous person on the internet because of his revolutionary marketing strategy.”

Pope said he was especially concerned by the site, as it appeared to explicitly target teenagers and even younger children – an element which Beeston said was “a grave concern, both from a legal and moral perspective.” 

One video post promoting the course featured a young boy purportedly aged 6, who is described as hoping to follow in Tate’s footsteps to become a boxing champion as he is shown doing situps and praising the site. Many others show children as young as 13 promoting the site, with promotional content focusing on “teenagers” becoming millionaires and “making more money than their teachers,” said Beeston. 

And one of Tate’s closest associates, Miles Sonkin – more widely known by the pseudonym Iggy Semmelweis – has openly stated that the “prime demographic” for both The Real World and Tate’s other site, The War Room, are “school age boys 12-18.”

The affiliation with The War Room is another major concern for critics of The Real World, who are concerned the site acts as the entry point into a pipeline of radical misogyny that eventually delivers young men to a forum where they are trained in sex trafficking women.

Tate’s promotional content makes clear that, for the hardcore devotees who graduate through the various levels of The Real World, the logical next step is to sign up for The War Room, which is pitched as a network of powerful, connected businessmen and those who wish to learn from them. 

But leaked chats from The War Room indicate that the network has been used to instruct members on how to generate wealth by grooming women into online sex work, using the same “loverboy” methods Tate has previously sold online classes in through his “Pimping Hoes Degree” course, and which he now faces criminal charges for using in Romania.

“It does seem as though Tate’s online presence funnels people towards The Real World, which in turn funnels people towards The War Room,” said Beeston. “Of course, where minors are involved, this is deeply concerning.”

In a statement to VICE News, a Google spokesperson said that “when we’re notified of an app that may break our Google Play policies, we review it and take action if necessary, which may include suspending the app.” The spokesperson did not provide further details on which policy had been breached by The Real World. The removal of the app from Google Play means users with the app already installed on their device will still be able to to use it, but won’t be able to update it.

An Apple spokesperson said that its guidelines prohibited apps from preying on users or attempting to rip off customers, as well as objectionable content, but did not mention any intention to remove the app from its platform.

In response to questions from VICE News, Tate’s attorney Joe McBride sent a number of promotional videos for The Real World with testimonials from men speaking about their positive experiences with the site. He said the videos contradicted the “allegations about their business model.”

“You may not agree with Andrew and Tristan Tate’s message. But it is madness to suggest that their message of male empowerment rises to the level of criminality or dangerousness,” he said.

Tate has previously said that claims his affiliate marketing programme is a pyramid scheme are “false.”

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