Can Twitter create spoiler-free option for Outlander, Game of Thrones, other series?

spoiler-freeIs it inevitable in some ways that we’re going to get spoilers on social media? Absolutely so, and that is the first point that we’re going to make and make very loudly within this piece. If you are behind on a television series and are visiting social media, it’s an unwritten rule that you have to brace yourself to have some things ruined. Yet, should that really be the same for shows that are in production and aren’t even out yet? That’s another debate altogether.

We’ll admit that we first started to think about this subject last night in the midst of seeing a social-media discussion between Outlander executive producer Matthew B. Roberts and some fans of the series over the abundance of set photos that are online. Everyone’s got a preference as to how much of them they want to see — we know that for many book readers, they love seeing the set photos since it gives them something specific to look forward to. Twitter is becoming one of the major means in which to community-build and distribute content, so of course it makes sense for this to be a landing page for many images. Yet, said photos being there often ruins the experience for others — whether it be show-only viewers uncertain about what’s going to come next in the book series or those who simply don’t want to know in advance what Outlander is going to look like until some official footage is released by Starz.

At CarterMatt, the philosophy has always been to not share set pictures unless they are via some sort of official channel tied to the show. It’s in part a copyright issue, but also one where we recognize that many of these photos can be an inconvenience to production. Not all of them, and it’s a difficult line for Outlander to tow — you want to be excited that there are fans visiting your set and taking photos (it’s a tremendous example of fan passion), but you also don’t want them to give anything away. Whenever we discuss possible spoilers related to set photos, such as we did earlier this week with a notable name turning up in Culross, we do our best to offer a warning in advance. If a spoiler is given away because of cast members filming in public, we feel as though discerning readers should be able to choose whether or not they want to know about it.

Should social media, namely Twitter, start to consider ways in which to protect some of its own users from spoilers, as well? If you go over to Reddit or to many message boards, there are ways to mark specific content as spoilers for the sake of exposing them only to the audience that you want to see them. (For incoming readers, they are either blurred or obscured until the page is informed that they want to viewed.) Shouldn’t it be possible to do that again on social media? There are ways already to hide certain content as sensitive, so why not figure out a way to also mark and mask spoilers?

Obviously, this is not going to be a panacea for the problem as a whole — you don’t want Twitter controlling it on their end and, inevitably, there will be many people who don’t bother to use it because they live off the shock value. For a select audience, however, it could be useful to hide content from users until they verify that they are, in fact, interested in seeing it.

Related Check out the latest Outlander season 4 production tease

This is where we bring Game of Thrones into the mix. There are few shows out there people get angrier about when it comes to social-media spoilers after an episode. We know that there are people who have lost followers just because they mention what happened on their Twitter feed — leading, inevitably, to people getting angry. If they could mark them as proper spoilers and keep certain parts of their audience from seeing them, that will still enable them as users to discuss the show with people they want to discuss it with. Yet, they also wouldn’t lose any followers in the process who feel screwed over. (Game of Thrones potentially could have a set-photo problem on its hands later this season, as well — this is the final season, and given that this show is ahead of the books unlike Outlander there’s probably going to be a bidding war for many photos that leak.)

Spoilers are clearly a delicate issue and there is no immediate fix — also, we recognize that this is a first-world problem in contrast to many serious things going on in the world. Nonetheless, this is a problem that can at least be improved upon, even if it cannot be resolved entirely. Why not explore some possible solutions?

What do you think should be done about show-specific social-media spoilers?

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