Earlier this week, massive spoilers for Naughty Dog’s hotly anticipated The Last Of Us Part II made the rounds. In addition to ruining key parts of the game for patient fans, the apparent leak also kickstarted a wider discussion on social media about spoilers: Who do they benefit? Who do they hurt? And, really, what’s the point?
Look: Some people don’t mind spoilers. To others, they’re worse than murder. It’s a spectrum, of course—one that we won’t hash out here. But if you lean more toward the latter camp, here are a few hacks and tricks that will serve you well.
Twitter has a built-in mute function, which you can find under the “content preferences” submenu of your settings. From there, go to “safety,” hit “muted,” and go to “muted” words. Hit the plus button on the upper-righthand corner and you’ll pull up a menu that will allow you to prevent unwanted words from popping up on the platform.
You’ll be able to hide specific words and phrases from your timeline, from your notifications, and even choose whether or not to mute them from anyone or just from people you don’t follow. You’ll also be able to decide how long they stay muted for. I recommend seven days from now (the maximum shelf life of a news cycle in 2020).
The only issue with Twitter’s built-in mute function is that you have to input phrases one by one. So, if you want to mute, say, “last of us,” “last of us 2,” “last of us ii,” “last of us part ii,” “last of us part 2,” “last us,” “lsat of us,” “last us of,” “naughty dog,” “spoiler,” “spoilers,” “joel,” “ellie,” “joel and ellie,” “jole and ellie,” “dina,” “ellie’s girlfriend,” “fireflies,” “clickers,” and anything else you can think of that pertains to Last of Us spoilers, you’ll be refreshing the mute page for some time.
Chrome users can circumvent the issue by downloading a helpful browser extension. For example, Open Tweet Filter functions in much the same way as Twitter’s. The big difference is that you can input multiple terms all at once.
What’s more, if you know of particular social media accounts that are careless with spoilers—hey, we’re not naming names—you can mute those accounts as a batch, too. On Twitter, you can only mute accounts by going directly to someone’s page or clicking the drop-down button on one of their tweets. More often than not, you only think to do so after you’ve found out that that character from Harry Potter dies.
Facebook is a bit more cluttered and disorganized (and politically destructive) than Twitter, so to protect yourself from spoilers, you’ll need to make use of some stronger tools. Here, too, Chrome extensions come in handy. Among the more effective offerings is the curiously named F.B.(FluffBusting)Purity. Though it’s ostensibly designed to block the “junk you don’t want to see”—ads, spam, and #sponcon—the extensions has a robust text filter, too. Just type in all of the Last of Us words and phrases you don’t want to see and voila! When you’re ready to venture back into spoilerland, just turn the extension off.
There are few more insidious ways for spoilers to pop up than through videos that automatically play. One minute, you’re watching the new trailer for Final Fantasy VII Remake. The next, you’ve had the damn ending spoiled!
Publishers of media outlets use autoplaying video in the name of accruing revenue and alienating readers, but that doesn’t mean you have to be subject to their whims. Just download a Chrome extension—yes, another one—that will block the audio on any video that uses HTML5. There are approximately 72,000 likeminded extensions. Pick one of the higher-rated ones and go forth in safety. But if there’s a site that produces videos you trust and enjoy (cough, cough), you might want to choose an extension with a whitelist option, like Smart Mute.
You can also disable autoplay videos by platform.
- On Reddit: Under the “user settings” menu, you’ll find an option for tweaking the “feed settings.” Click on that, then turn off “autoplay media.”
- On Facebook: Go to your settings and scroll until you find the “videos” submenu. There, you can turn off autoplay.
- On Facebook’s mobile app: Open up the menu, and then go down this path of arcane submenus: Settings and Privacy, Settings, Media and Contacts, Video and Photos. There, you can turn it off.
- On Twitter: Go to your settings. Click on “data usage” (it’s near the bottom) and switch “autoplay” from “on cellular or wi-fi” to “never.” This should apply to your account on the whole; no need to do it on both mobile and desktop.
- On Instagram: Open up your settings. Click on “cellular data use” (this could be under the “account” submenu, depending on your platform) and then turn on the data saver.
- On Instagram’s desktop app: Good one!
Even if you don’t turn off autoplay, you’d be wise to keep your volume on mute when spoilers are going around.
Unspoiler is a Chrome extension that’s basically a Mirror Shield for spoilers. Once you download the extension, just type in the game you don’t want spoiled (“last of us”), and it’ll block off any related content with a giant red warning. It’s meant for TV shows, but it works just as well for video games, too. In fact, it almost works too well. Unspoiler seems to block any headline even tangentially related to your entered term. With the extension turned on, it’s not uncommon to see Google News results that look something like this:
As you can see, it can quickly turn browsing the internet into an eyesore. But, if you want to shield yourself from spoilers, few options will offer you more protection. When you’re ready to see content related to “last of us,” just open the extension again and tap the small “x” next to the phrase.