Update: After the spoiler heard round the internet, posted hours before the West Coast (not to mention international or time-lapse) viewers even had the opportunity to watch the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, the official Facebook page said, “whoops.”
Their apology to fans does say “sorry,” but also seems to say that the post was 100% planned, and went up as planned - it was not a mistake as some posited. They said simply, “we jumped the gun and put up a spoiler.” Their full statement follows.
”We heard your feedback to last night’s post, and we’re sorry. With zero negative intent, we jumped the gun and put up a spoiler. Please know we’re going to work to ensure that, in the future, possible spoilers by official AMC social feeds are killed before they can infect, certainly before the West Coast (U.S.) broadcast of The Walking Dead. As always, thank you for watching, and keep the comments coming. We appreciate all of your support. #RIPSpoiler”
Original Story: AMC’s The Walking Dead had a huge shock for viewers in their mid-season finale… unfortunately for those watching time-lapse, internationally, or even on the West Coast of the US, the shock came not from the episode itself, but from their social media team.
Note: We are not posting the spoiler directly in this story, but the image, including the spoiler, is included further down. Click to expand at your own risk.
Originally posted just seconds after the episode aired on the East Coast, at 10:00pm EST (That’s two hours before the episode even started Pacific time for those who don’t feel like doing math), The Walking Dead’s official, AMC-run page on Facebook ran an image of the character who died in the episode, with a "RIP ___" including the character’s name. It’s a big, full-sized image that shows beyond the shadow of a doubt the fate of the character.
Mimicking the snafu, at 10:24pm EST, the twitter account retweeted an image from their sister series Talking Dead that said the character’s name, plus the Facebook image, plus the spoiler in the text of the tweet.
These spoilers were virtually unavoidable for fans who happened to check Facebook or Twitter before, or even while watching the show in the case of Eastern/Central DVR watchers. If you like or follow the page, it shows up in your feed. Some will try to blame the end user, telling them not to go on the internet at all until they watch their favorite show. Unfortunately, whether trying to communicate to friends and family that you’ve safely arrived from your Thanksgiving travels, checking work email, or just wanting to pop on - it’s an unrealistic expectation, and ultimately not one that fans should have to carry - that burden is on the public relations and social media teams.
So what happened? The first instinct is to write it off as a simple mistake, but the image was obviously a strategically planned release. The fact that the twitter account shared it as well, over 20 minutes later (but still over 2 hours early) makes it look less like a mistake and more like a strategy. After about an hour of being up, the image was post-dated on Facebook to take it off the timeline until seconds after the West Coast airing, but was still on the page thanks to it being a photo post. As of press time, there has been no apology or explanation offered on either the Facebook or twitter account of the show.
The desire to control the message, and to capitalize on the immediacy, sharability, and “trending” of the internet is an understandable one. It just might not be the right way to go when it comes to spoiling, and thus disenfranchising, about half of your audience. Between West Coasters, foreign audiences, and those watching on DVR or planning to stream on AMC’s own site the next day, there were a lot of angry tweets and posts - more seemed to be talking about getting spoiled than the death itself. The first angry comment on the Facebook post, for instance, has 7,410 likes on it - that pales in comparison to the 232 thousand total likes on the image, but does nearly triple the 2,612 shares of the picture. Newsarama has reached out to AMC for comment and will update this story when they respond.
In the meantime, if you want more possible spoilers, here's the teaser trailer for the second half of Season 5, premiering in February: