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Google's latest patent could put spoilers to bed

The search giant is granted a patent for an automatic spoiler blocker for social media.

Getty Images/Chris Jackson

Has Facebook or Twitter become spoiler-filled ground you fear to tread because you can't watch "Game of Thrones" as it airs? Google's got your back.

The search giant was granted a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday for a "system and method for processing content spoilers." The proposed filter would identify spoilers about TV shows, books and movies and remove them from your social media feeds until you're up to date.

Google's patent takes it a step further than a simple keyword-based filter that blocks all related content, though. Rather than sticker every post about a certain show or book with a spoiler warning, the patent proposes a system that tracks, for example, all the episodes of a show that users have watched. It could then automatically censor content in a user's feed if the post is about an episode the user hasn't seen for themselves.

An illustration of how the spoiler blocker may filter posts. USPTO/Google

The post itself would still appear, but if the system thinks it detects a spoiler, the content would be censored. And, on the off chance you succumb to temptation, you can click past the spoiler tag and see what was posted. But don't say you weren't warned.

Of course, this would all depend on users either manually logging or opting in to having their viewing tracked, similar to how Netflix currently tracks viewing and posts to connected social media accounts. But with streaming on-demand content fast becoming the new norm and people tweeting their reactions to red weddings as soon as they happen, the potential for integration and the need to give unwanted spoilers the boot is definitely there.

However, don't expect it to keep your feeds safe any time soon. "We hold patents on a variety of ideas -- some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't," a Google spokeswoman said in a statement. "Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patents."

The patent doesn't outline what social media accounts the system would filter, and there's no word on how Google would integrate the system with social networks it doesn't own. But with audiences living under a spoilerific Sword of Damocles, a smart spoiler blocker would certainly be a better option than, say, staying off social media.