YouTube ruled in favor of its users this week when it banned an ad for the horror movie The Nun. The ban was prompted by a viral tweet that cautioned anyone who hates jump scares or had anxiety to look away and turn down the volume when they saw an ad … with the volume being turned down and nothing else.
The ad in question is clearly designed to freak out the viewer as much as possible. The familiar on-screen icons for volume on an Apple device appear in the center of the screen and begin adjusting (perhaps because of a ghost?) But that’s just a distraction, as the title character of The Nun pops up with a harrowing shriek and ghastly green eyes. It’s enough to make anyone jump, and considering that YouTube caters to kids of all ages, that could result in unnecessary panic.
YouTube cited was the “violent and shocking content in ads” policy that applies to all the Google platforms. The language of the policy is geared toward violence and other offensive content, but a jump scare seemingly applies. There is a line written in the policy specifically for “promotions that are likely to shock or scare,” which would fits the case of The Nun ad.
Of course, YouTube videos that contain jump scares themselves are still allowed, considering the classic “look closely, there’s a ghost in the background of this car commercial” prank video. And plenty of horror trailers with jump scares still run on YouTube, including the Slender Man ad that other Twitter users take issue with.
Part of the reason that The Nun ad caught so much negative attention so quickly is because it was forced on users. The length of the ad is just a few seconds, and it played automatically before and during other videos, so users weren’t able to click the “Skip Ad” button before the nightmare fuel popped up. It was especially horrifying on a mobile device, where the volume buttons might confuse the viewer just in time for the nun herself to take up the full screen.
For horror fanatics who actually like a good jump scare, the full teaser trailer for ‘The Nun’ also debuted today. The prequel to The Conjuring and Annabelle series takes place in 1952 and stars American Horror Story actress Taissa Farmiga. The movie opens in theaters on September 7, but the legion of cranky YouTube users who got an unsuspecting fright might not be in line for tickets.