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There are several different schools of thought on how spoilers should be handled on the Internet. There are some who think that no one should ever spoil any TV show or movie ever (which is damned near impossible), some who hold a statute of limitations, and some who just don’t care at all. Well if Google has anything to say about it, you’ll never have to worry about social media spoilers again, thanks to a new system they’re possibly putting together.
Google was awarded a United States patent recently that they want to use to identify and block potential spoilers for net surfers who may not be familiar with the information being shared. How are they going to do something like that? By keeping track of where subjects are in their TV viewing (or other forms of entertainment), presumably through social media itself. Here’s one of the clearest informative sections in the patent, using books as the example.
First, the system can determine progress stages associated with a subject for members in a group. For example, the system can determine and display how far each member in a group may be in reading a book, which may give each member social pressure to read the book according to the schedule and may encourage the members to keep up without waiting for the last minute to skim through the book. Second, the system can automatically determine content spoilers and prevent content spoilers delivered to a user without the user's confirmation. Third, the system may allow a user to explicitly request for spoilers from other users. For example, the system provides a user with progress stages of other users associated with a book, which allows the user to ask the other users that have finished reading the book for spoilers.
For instance, if you’re watching a TV show on Netflix – or reading a book on Goodreads, if you insist on adhering to the above passage – and have it linked up with your Facebook account, then Google Spoiler Annihilator (or whatever) will keep a close eye on your progress and will block out any posts on your timeline that contain information about episodes that you haven’t seen yet. So if you’re waiting for The Walking Dead Season 5 to hit Netflix, then you won’t have to worry about reading your friends talking about that time Rick did that thing, unless you privately ask them.
Does this all seem like the most invasive way necessary to avoid spoiling things for yourself? Absolutely. Especially when there’s already an app called Spoiler Shield that allows users to specify which shows, movies, and sporting events that they want to keep hidden from view. There’s nothing to say that Google is definitely bringing this patent to fruition, though. It was first filed in October 2012, and you can bet they’ve been working on it in the meantime; but for now, we’ll just have to wait and see.
So, if you still haven’t finished watching Breaking Bad yet, and are saving it for your 80th birthday for some reason, you may soon be able to read about the show without finding out that the entire series was just a daydream Walter White was having while in the teacher’s lounge. Oops.