With Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviews dropping today and the movie launching on Thursday night, it's hard to avoid spoilers (or avoid the movie at all for that matter). Here's how to set up automatic blocks both globally and on specific websites so you can avoid reading a single new spoiler or rumour.
Illustration by Fruzsina Kuhári.
This post was originally published in 2012. Due to the extreme inundation of Star Wars content on the web this week, we've updated the tips and tools with options that still work.
If You Don't Mind a Little News Sneaking in Here and There
Most of us have a limit to the amount of spoilers (ranging from OMG! Han Solo is in the movie to OMG! Yoda is evil and has horns now) we can handle on any specific topic. Thankfully, you can hide this stuff to make sure you don't come across anything during normal browsing or on social networks. You'll obviously also need to practice a little common sense, too -- basically, don't read articles about something and then complain about spoilers. Everything's going to be spoiled just by writing about it, so it's probably best to avoid anything and everything on the internet if that matters to you.
Block Keywords on Social Networks
Blocking content on social networks is a great way to intentionally keep yourself in the dark on any topic of your choosing. It's especially handy during sports games you don't care about, tech launches that mean nothing to you, or on opening weekend for games and movies. Here are a few ways to block content without unfollowing or unfriending everyone.
- Twitter: Some Twitter apps, like Tweetbot and Tweetdeck have a text filter hidden away in the options panel. On Tweetbot, just tap the conversation bubble icon with an X in the middle, then "Add Keyword," and add the keywords you want to block. On Tweetdeck, click Settings > Global Filter and add the text you want to filter away.
- Facebook: If you have friends that can't seem to stop talking about wars in space, then you might want to set up filters to get that content out of your news feed. Social Fixer is an extension for Chrome and Firefox that allows you to set up content filters for status updates. You can block movie spoilers, overly political posts, or anything else you want.
Automatically Hide Comments on Sites Known for Spoilers
One of the most annoying ways to spoil a movie, book, or video game is by some commenter who drops a massive spoiler out of nowhere. This is especially the case if you're just trying to watch a trailer for a movie or a review of a video game. Thankfully, it's pretty easy to block these comments and continue on spoiler-free. Here's how to do it.
- Block comments on YouTube: YouTube is a treasure trove of spoilers and it's impossible to avoid them if they have been voted up. Blocking them can not only save your sanity, it can also keep spoilers at bay. No YouTube Comments for Chrome and YouTube Comment Snob for Firefox will hide the comments so you don't have to worry about accidentally learning the end of a movie. As far as YouTube is concerned, Adblock Plus can also block out comments and other annoyances that could lead to spoilers.
- Block comments on many blogs: If you want to go on a full-blown comment lock-down, it's pretty simple. Shut Up blocks a wide variety of comments across blogs and can can help ensure you don't accidentally come across any information you don't want to. It even works on iOS.
If You Want a Complete Block on All Spoilers and Rumours
If you're going for a more extreme or long-term method, you need to set up your browsing in a way where you can avoid any type of content. This means tailoring and filtering your RSS feed and using extensions to block keywords from any site you visit.
Set Up RSS Filters
Feedly doesn't have a built-in way to filter content out of you feeds without completely unsubscribing from news sources. You'll have to set up your feeds through another source. Feed Rinse allows you to drop in your current RSS feeds, set up filters, and then it shoots out a new, filtered RSS feed clean of whatever you don't want to your reader of choice.
Use Extensions to Entirely Block Any Mention of the Content
If you really want to get rid of specific news or spoilers, it's time to block the words from the entire internet. This should only be used in extreme cases, but if you really want to make sure you stay in the dark, it's the only way to do it.
- Block sites with content-specific extensions: Content blocking extensions are super easy to make, so they exist for all sorts of specifics. Case in point, the Force Block extension blocks any site that even remotely mentions Star Wars. This is a pretty nuclear option though, as it will block an entire site, including this one, alongside the likes of YouTube as well. There are all kinds of these extensions, including ones for the Kardashians, Donald Trump, and plenty of others.
- Block web sites based on keywords: The TinyFilter extension for Chrome and ProCon add-on for Firefox both allow you to set up keyword specific blacklists. This means when you try to visit a site with the keyword (say, "The Force Awakens"), your browser will block you. They're meant to block adult content and profanity, but if you really want to avoid certain types of news, it's a sure-fire way to do it.
- Treat your keyword like profanity: If you don't want to entirely block the internet but would prefer to avoid seeing the terms in question, set up a profanity filter like Simple Profanity Filter for Chrome or the Profanity Filter userscript. This won't block the web, but it will turn every instance of Star Wars, Trump, or whatever keyword you choose into a series of asterisks, which, if nothing else, is rather amusing.
Short of completely unplugging, you can never get away from rumours and spoilers completely, but it's possible to at least restrict your web content to a manageable level. Over the coming weeks an abundance of Star Wars nonsense will be pouring in, so if you're looking to cut it away, this is a great way to do so.