This Google patent could kill TV spoilers on social media


There’s nothing worse than planning to stream the season finale of The Walking Dead  only to find out over Twitter that (spoiler alert!) Glenn... nah, we wouldn’t do that to you.

But Google is toying with technology that would make it so that we couldn’t do that to you, at least on social media. The company just had a U.S. patent approved for a method to block spoilers from ambushing you on your social feeds.

The basic idea is that you would let the spoiler-blocking service know about a particular TV show, book, or movie you’re interested in. Then you’d let the service know how far into the content you are, such as the last TV episode you watched or the last book chapter you finished. This data could also potentially be pulled from video sites like Amazon or Netflix.

Once that’s done, the system can then scan for potential spoilers coming across your feeds. If it finds one, the offending content is blurred out by default. Should curiosity get the better of you, however, you’ll be able to click through and find out if Walt kills Jessie, or vice-versa.


A drawing from Google’s spoiler-blocking patent.

Google may have the patent, but there are spoiler blockers you can try right now such as Unspoiler for Google Chrome and Spoiler Shield for Android and iOS.

The impact on you at home: Spoilers on social networks have been an annoying hazard of online life for some time. But now with DVRs and on-demand streaming services displacing broadcasts, the chance of a spoiler ruining your House of Cards marathon are even more common. A system that blocks spoilers is also great for early binge-watchers who want to talk about the show on Facebook without ruining it for everyone else.

Will it blur?

Don't get too excited just yet though. Even though Google has a patent for a spoiler-blocking system there’s no guarantee this idea will ever turn into a real product. There’s also the problem of how it would be implemented. Having spoiler blockers on Facebook and Twitter would make the most sense, but would those companies be interested in integrating something like this if it’s encumbered by a patent from Google?

Spoiler blocks could show up on G+, but that would just guarantee no one would ever use it.

If a spoiler blocker does come to a Google product an ideal candidate would be Google Now. All those interest-based articles that pop up can easily spoil a UFC Fight Night you have stashed on your DVR.

[via Quartz]

This story, "This Google patent could kill TV spoilers on social media" was originally published by PCWorld.