Having exploded in growth and influence over the past decade, social media now infiltrates into our lives at nearly every level, including the way in which we discuss films. This can be a good thing, especially for marketers looking to promote their latest film; advertisements on Facebook and Instagram are particularly effective, reaching a far wider audience than more traditional advertising methods such as billboards or television adverts. That these social media adverts are often interactive, especially on platforms like Facebook, makes them all the more intriguing for the viewer, and this is likely to boost box office earnings. As for the film-goer, though, social media can quickly become their worst enemy.
Platforms like Twitter are great for creating discussion around pretty much any topic, including films. If you’ve seen a film and want to know what others thought, or even engage in conversations about it, Twitter and similar social media platforms are great; if you haven’t seen a certain film yet and it’s receiving a lot of hype, you’re entering dangerous territory by opening up these apps. If we look at Avengers: Infinity War, one of last year’s biggest blockbusters, it was greatly anticipated by Marvel fanatics and more casual film-goers alike, and also filled to the brim with moments just waiting to be spoiled for those yet to see it. Social media was full of fans’ opinions of the film, and many users were not as careful as they should have been in revealing unwanted information.
So how much does this actually spoil the film-watching experience? Quite a lot, actually. No one wants a film they’re really excited for to be spoiled for them by knowing part of the plot before they see it, just as they wouldn’t want to find out what happened on the latest episode of a TV show they love before watching it, or learning about a massive plot twist in a book they haven’t yet finished (my thoughts are with those who prematurely learned that Snape kills Dumbledore back in 2005).
There are a few ways we can help social media become a safer place for those wishing to avoid the dreaded film spoiler. Firstly, if you have seen a film during its opening weekend, be considerate and careful about what you post: make sure any opinion or review you share about the film is spoiler-free for at least a week or two following the film’s release, or at least post a clear heads-up if you are about to reveal a spoiler. Secondly, if you wish to avoid spoilers yourself, be very wary when you are scrolling through any social media platform. Temporarily unfollow any account which is likely to post spoilers, such as a fan page, and if you so much as glimpse the word spoiler or even see the title of the film, shut your eyes and get away as fast as you can. However, the only way to completely avoid spoilers on social media is to avoid social media altogether: if you have been waiting months or even years to see a certain film, you may want to consider deleting the apps off your phone until you are able to make it to the cinema, if this is viable. While social media is brilliant at garnering hype for a film, it presents many dangers; as you scroll through your feed, tread cautiously.