How to avoid spoilers online

How to avoid spoilers online
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Dodging spoilers is becoming more difficult than ever. Thanks in large part to the many algorithmic social media feeds you can scroll through at any given time, just hanging out on the internet means you might be unwittingly served new information about a show or game you haven’t experienced for yourself.

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

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

Twitter lets you mute 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 listing and click on 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’ll eventually want to see information about what you’re muting.

For my Zelda mutes, I just set them up so they go away after 30 days. By then, I suspect I’ll have beaten the game and will want to see whatever ridiculous shenanigans players have gotten themselves into.

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

To help prevent that, I’d recommend clearing your YouTube watch history of anything pertaining to the thing you’re trying to avoid. On the web, start at the homepage, click the three lines menu > History. Then, on the mobile app, use the Library tab to access History. From there, you can search your watch history and selectively delete videos as you see fit. I’ve searched for things like “Zelda” and “tears,” for example, and removed all of the videos that came up.

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You can also tell YouTube which types of recommended content you don’t want to see. When looking at a suggested video on the homepage or in a sidebar, click the three dots button and then click on Not interested. And if there’s a certain channel you want to avoid entirely, click on Don’t recommend channel in that same menu.

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 anything about the Zelda franchise or Tears of the Kingdom, and I think I’ve already accidentally stumbled across a couple of spoilers while scrolling deep in some Reddit threads.

If you can, avoid comment sections on articles or social media posts related to the thing you’re trying not to get spoiled on. And yes, I’ve closed comments on this article!

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

The Chrome extension I’ve been using is Spoiler Protection 2.0. As with Twitter’s mute feature, you can specify certain words and phrases you want to be flagged. When the extension detects those words or phrases on a page, it will hide them and the words around them beneath a big red banner. If you click the banner, you can read the text.

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However, I will warn you that Spoiler Protection 2.0 asks for permission to read and change all your data on websites you visit. I suspect other browser extensions that offer this type of functionality ask for this level of permissions as well.

Unfortunately, no matter how many barriers you try to put between yourself and spoilers, you will just have to accept that, in being a person in the world, you might get spoiled on something you don’t want to. There are just too many places where spoiler information can show up on the web to account for them all. And as some people learned when a guy spoiled the ending of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for fans waiting to get the book, there’s not much you can do to prevent somebody just telling you a spoiler with their voice.

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


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