By Wes O’Donnell
Managing Editor, InCyberDefense
No Avengers spoilers ahead!
My father told me a story about the time he drove by a crowded movie theater in 1980, past a long line of people waiting to see Empire Strikes Back, stuck his head out the window and yelled: “Vader is Luke’s father!”
Shameful? Yes… Almost 40 years later, looking through the lens of adulthood, he feels horrible about the act. Regardless, there are people who will spoil a movie for you if you give them the opportunity.
If you are like me, frequent business travel may make it impossible to catch Avengers Endgame on opening weekend. Or, perhaps your best friend poorly planned her wedding on the same weekend as the movie and skipping the ceremony for Avengers [which in my opinion is totally legit] is not an option.
Whether it’s work, family, travel or key moments in our friend’s lives, it just may not be feasible to watch Avengers Endgame the day it comes out.
Those of us who work in cybersecurity or IT journalism have a very perilous week ahead as our jobs require constant online connection and engagement. Personally, I’ll be walking through a veritable minefield online for the next few days. But for the rest of you, there are certain key tactics that you can employ to better protect yourself from spoilers online until you can catch the movie.
Adjust your social media settings temporarily
Your best bet is to stay off Twitter completely. I know, that’s a tall order for some… Jump into your privacy settings and disable auto-play videos. While you’re in there, disable Direct Messages as well. It may be a good idea to jump into Facebook next and switch tagging to “Only Me,” especially if you have tag-heavy friends. Be extra cautious on the Facebook Newsfeed. If you have spoiler-risk friends on your friend’s list, now would be the time to “Unfollow” them. Don’t worry, you can follow them again later.
Another great feature of Twitter is the “muted words” option. In your Twitter settings, you will find a tab for Muted Words. Twitter gives you the option to mute Tweets that contain particular words, phrases, usernames, emojis, or hashtags. Muting will remove these Tweets from your Notifications tab, push notifications, SMS, email notifications, Home timeline, and from replies to Tweets. Go ahead and mute “Endgame,” “Avengers,” “Spoilers,” “Snap,” “Infinity Stones,” “Thanos,” and every other Endgame related word you can think of.
Avoid Reddit like the plague
Trolls will drop spoilers in the most unlikely of places, just to catch you off guard. Resist the urge to visit Reddit. Think you’re safe in your seemingly harmless underwater-basket-weaving subreddit? Think again…
Online games like the Division 2 or Apex Legends are dangerous.
In November of 2004, while serving in the Air Force, I had a brand-new shiny copy of Halo 2 and jumped online for a few games before starting the story campaign. Big mistake. The novelty of the new Xbox Live platform and the ability to chat and play online with friends and strangers was quickly destroyed when a random matchmade player dropped the ending of Halo 2 through voice chat.
Ever since I always complete the single-player campaign before jumping online. Until you have a chance to see Avengers Endgame, it may be a good idea to dust off your old copy of Borderlands or your favorite offline game.
Comment sections of websites are a minefield
Often, reading the comments below an article is more fun than reading the actual article. Where else can you get pitched a $10,000/day work-from-home opportunity, engage with a Russia bot, get into an argument with a political opponent and stay relatively anonymous all at once?
Still, it’s best to avoid comments sections of every website you visit until you have a chance to catch the movie.
Consider an anti-spoiler browser extension
Unspoiler for Google Chrome is perhaps the best-known extension for nipping spoilers in the bud. Best of all, it works across Facebook, Twitter and any website that you visit on Chrome. The extension is perfect for blocking headlines and feeds about Avengers Endgame.
Spoilers are no laughing matter
Ultimately, the producers of Endgame want you to enjoy the film the way they created it. That means not knowing how it ends before they have had a chance to take you on the journey.
It might not be a bad idea to visit your push notification settings in your smartphone and consider disabling push notifications for all social media and news apps. Or better yet, lock your phone in a lead-lined safe for a week and enjoy what life used to be like before we were all connected to the hive mind.
Just be careful standing in line waiting for the movie to start. Even if some jerk doesn’t drive by and scream the ending, people exiting the showing before yours will be talking about how awesome it was as they are leaving.
And making it that far only to hear the ending, well, that would be a Thanos-sized bummer.