YouTube deletes account of Hamilton man who livestreamed transphobic assault on city bus

YouTube has deleted the account of a Hamilton man who livestreamed his transphobic tirade and assault of a passenger on a city bus in 2022.The Google-owned video-sharing platform deleted Chris Pretula’s account last week — days after CBC Hamilton asked the company questions about his channel and the platform’s policies on hate content.Pretula’s channel was deleted for violating company policies, a YouTube spokesperson said in an email.The company also said when a channel is terminated, it is against the platform’s terms of service to open or use another channel or circumvent the policy by opening another channel.YouTube “consistently” enforces its policies and channel owners are notified when their content is removed, the company said.In early April, a judge sentenced Pretula to seven months in jail for assault and breaching court orders for the incident in August 2022.Pretula, 43, posted the livestream of the crime — which saw him unleash an unprovoked hateful rant toward riders before kicking one of them in the leg — on YouTube, among other sites. During court proceedings, the judge described his crime as motivated by anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate.Despite facing charges for the incident, he continued to post other livestreams which the judge in his case deemed to be hate-motivated.Chris Pretula pleaded guilty to assault and breaching release conditions. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)Pretula, who pleaded guilty, apologized for the incident during court proceedings but also said he’d continue to livestream in the future.An expert in human rights and cyberbullying in addition to 2SLGBTQ+ advocates said the case is a prime example of why Canada needs stronger legislation against cyberbullying and online hate like the Online Harms Act.Some of the provisions in the act would require social media companies, like YouTube, to help users avoid seeing harmful content.In its email to CBC, YouTube said hate speech is not allowed on the site and, when identified, it removes content that violates the website’s hate speech policies.Gender identity and expression is one of the categories receiving protected group status under YouTube’s rules.The company said in its email the safety of its community is top priority and a responsibility it takes seriously. YouTube said community members can report or flag content they think violates its policies.Reporting content is anonymous, so other users can’t tell who made the report, it added.Once content is reported, it’s reviewed and then appropriate action is taken, it said. 

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