Let’s Talk Spoilers

Spoiler Warning!

This phrase that has become increasingly common on social media over the past few years. It comes from people wishing to discuss the latest and greatest pop culture release, without ruining moments for others. The problem with using this phrase on social media though, is that it tends to be very ineffective.

When scrolling through Twitter, scan reading tweets to see what may be of interest, my brain has normally clocked a key word or phrase that contains the spoiler before I have processed that I shouldn’t be reading it. Spoilers are also nearly impossible to avoid on Twitter if an image is included.

While many people will try their upmost to avoid spoiling things for their social media followers, that kind of defeats the purpose. It is called social media after all, it is designed to be a shared social space where people can express opinions and interact with others.

Many of the big spoilers from popular culture centre around the films and TV shows people love and therefore, want those ‘water cooler’ discussions with friends and followers about these moments. While it is considerate for people to try and be vague to lessen the risk of spoilers, it then lessens the fun of the discussion for those wanting to have it.

IGN uses this spoiler warning at the start their videos.

Currently on Twitter, and I am using Twitter as the example as it tends to be the biggest cause of spoilers and discussions, there are filtering options but they are very black and white.

You can mute words and phrases, however if someone doesn’t use those specific words you muted, you will still see the tweet. The other option is to mute an entire account but then this limits the interaction you can have with someone just because they may spoil something down the road.

For me, a much better approach would be for Twitter to implement a spoiler function. This could cause a tweet to be greyed out unless interacted with. To help people know what they are clicking into, the greyed-out tweet could just display an approved hashtag such as ‘#WandaVision’ to allow users to have a heads up before clicking the tweet.

Users could check an option when composing their tweet, just like with the options for who can reply, to signify this is a spoiler tweet and cause the greyed-out effect to be applied. Then for anyone replying or quote tweeting the tweet, their subsequent tweets would automatically have the spoiler filter applied to streamline the process.

Example of how such a filter could be applied.

This would allow people to still tweet and discuss recently released media without the risk of spoiling it for others. While there will always be trolls online that spoil events on purpose, these types of users would gradually be phased off of your account by you muting or blocking them. Let’s be honest, why would you follow someone who deliberately ruins things for others anyway.

This of course would require Twitter to go through the effort of implementing such a system however, I feel like it would be in their interest to do so. After all they are surely focused on the number of active users and how many interactions they have on their site. Implementing a safer environment for people to talk freely would only reassure fans of other media they can scroll through Twitter without the fear of a surprise appearance being ruined for them.

This of course is a minor thing in the grand scheme of social media issues however it is one that will only persist. Part of this is due to Video-On-Demand and Streaming. As these services become more prominent for blockbuster releases, companies such as Disney are adopting a global release for new shows to synchronise everyone and not leave any region behind. This of course leads to immediate talk on social media and as we know, social media is a global platform. With a global roll out of media, many territories are having big shows and films release in the middle of the night and then waking up to barrage of spoilers online.

 A spoiler safe tweet won’t allow for fans in those territories to be up to date on the conversations, but it will keep those conversations hidden until they are ready to take part in them.

I think it is only a matter of time before companies implement ways to help deal with spoilers online but until then, I hope you do as much as you can to not ruin these special moments for those who aren’t caught up.

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