How to avoid spoilers online

Dodging spoilers will be harder than ever. Thanks in large part to the many algorithmic social media feeds that you can scroll through at any time, just hanging out on the internet means you’re inadvertently getting new information about a show or game you haven’t experienced yourself.

I have been particularly sensitive to this The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. I can’t wait to discover all the new secrets around and above Hyrule. But with the full game leaked many days before launch on May 12, every feed, news site, subreddit, forum post, and comment section is suddenly a potential minefield for spoilers that I want to explore for myself.

To protect myself, I’ve put together a few tools and solutions that I’d like to share with you. Hopefully they help you avoid spoilers Zelda or the game, show or movie, etc. of your choice. But as I’ll discuss later, there’s no way you can fully guarantee that you’ll be able to avoid spoilers, so be vigilant.

Mute words on Twitter

Twitter allows it stupid words and phrases so they don’t show up in places like your main timeline, notifications tab, or push notifications. To set up muted words, go to your settings list and click Settings and support > Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Mute and block > Muted words. Muted words can be set to last for 24 hours, seven days, 30 days, or until you unmute a word or phrase, meaning you have a few options if you know you eventually want to see information about what you mutes.

For mine Zelda dampeners, I just set them to disappear after 30 days. By then I guess I’ll have beaten the game and will want to see what ridiculous shenanigans players have been up to.

Clear your YouTube history and use the YouTube ‘not interested’ button

YouTube often recommends new videos related to previous videos you’ve watched. That means, if you’re like me and have eagerly consumed every minute Tears of the Kingdom prerelease footage you can find, YouTube may suggest a boss fight or story spoiler video uploaded by someone who has a leaked version of the game, thinking you might be interested in it. (I’m interested, YouTube. Just not right now!)

To help prevent that, I recommend clearing your YouTube viewing history of anything related to what you’re trying to avoid. On the web, start on the home page and click the three line menu > History. Than, on the mobile app, use the Library tab to access History. From there, you can search your viewing history and selectively remove videos as you see fit. For example, I searched for things like “Zelda” and “tears” and deleted any videos that came up.

Pretty perfect cross section of my interests here.
Screenshot of Jay Peters / EntertainmentCab

You can also tell YouTube what kinds of featured content you don’t want to see. When you’re looking at a suggested video on the homepage or in a sidebar, click the three-dot button, then click Not interested. And if there’s a particular channel you want to avoid altogether, hit it Do not recommend channel in that same menu.

Avoid comment sections

Trolls love to hang out in comments and replies where it’s easy for them to spoil information and secrets. In my case, I’m currently wary of it something about the Zelda franchise or Tears of the Kingdomand I think I’ve already stumbled upon a few spoilers by accident while scrolling deep into some Reddit threads.

If you can, avoid comment sections on articles or social media posts that pertain to what you don’t want to get spoiled about. And yes, I have closed comments on this article!

Use browser extensions to block words and phrases

Certain browser extensions can identify and hide specific words or phrases on a webpage so that you don’t see them until you intentionally click through. This has come in very handy for me while I scan my RSS feeds as I won’t be accidentally spoiled by a headline while I’m catching up on news.

The Chrome extension I used is Spoiler Protection 2.0. Similar to Twitter’s mute feature, you can specify certain words and phrases that you want to highlight. When the extension detects those words or phrases on a page, they and the words around them are hidden under a big red banner. If you click on the banner, you can read the text.

Some sentences I blocked with Spoiler Protection 2.0.
Screenshot of Jay Peters / EntertainmentCab

I do warn you that Spoiler Protection 2.0 asks permission to read and change all your data on websites you visit. I suspect that other browser extensions that provide this kind of functionality also ask for this permission level.

Accept that you can be spoiled no matter what

Unfortunately, no matter how many barriers you try to put between yourself and spoilers, you’ll just have to accept that you, as a person in the world, can be spoiled for something you don’t want. There are simply too many places where spoiler information can appear on the internet to account for them all. And as some people learned when a man screwed up the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for fans waiting to get the book, there’s not much you can do to stop someone from just telling you a spoiler with their voice.

That said, in my opinion, the best stories and games aren’t really ruined if you already know the biggest spoilers. I can’t remember the finer story Breath of the Wild, but I fondly reminisce about solving shrine puzzles and climbing to the top of every tower I could see. I expect I will feel the same way Tears of the Kingdom; as cheesy as it sounds, what matters more is the journey along the way.

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