A handful of young YouTube viewers received a terrifying scare roughly six months ago when graphic ads for a horror film ran before innocuous-seeming clips.
Two ads for Sony Pictures‘ Insidious: The Last Key — one of which featured a humanoid creature probing the throat of a distressed young woman with claw-like fingers — ran before a Frozen music video, an instructional Lego-building clip, a scene from the cartoon PJ Masks, and two Minecraft videos. The issue came to light after three parents contacted the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a regulatory council, which has upheld the complaints, per the BBC.
In addition to the three children, two adults also filed complaints to the ASA about the distressing ads.
While Sony Pictures responded to the ASA that it taken great pains to exclude unknown and child audiences from their targeting, the BBC notes that YouTube’s algorithms could have been at fault. That said, YouTube contended to the ASA that advertisers were responsible for the distribution targeting of their own campaigns, and noted that the ads had not appeared on YouTube Kids — a version of the flagship platform designed for younger viewers. Accordingly, Sony said it will now only run mature ads on a pre-vetted list of channels.
This isn’t the first time that YouTube has dealt with inappropriate kid-aimed content. Last fall, the company purged 50 channels featuring violent and sexual themes targeting children. And in April, the YouTube Kids app rolled out amplified parental controls, including the ability to whitelist videos by hand.