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Olympics Fans Weigh Unplugging From Social Media To Avoid Spoilers

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The outcome of Olympic events airing in primetime isn't the novelty it once was. Thanks to social media, it's nearly impossible to get through the day without getting a glimpse of the day's results before they air on TV.

"I try to tell myself I'm not going to find out but I know that I will," says Lucas Salasorano, a D.C. resident who's been going out of his way to avoid seeing Olympic results before the events debut on TV at night. But it's an effort that may all be in vain, he says.

"I'll still, like a sucker, be watching anyway," he says. "Obviously it's not as exciting because you already know what's going on."

He's just one of many viewers upset that some high profile Olympic events aren't being televised till prime time, well after the results are reported by news organizations and then amplified on social media.

There's only one way to avoid Olympic spoilers, says Jennifer Goldbeck from the University of Maryland's iSchool.

"Don't look at Twitter, don't look at Facebook, you maybe even want to avoid looking at news sites," she says. But it may be tough, considering the number of social media users has doubled since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Goldbeck says.

"So you have to decide is it worth abandoning for that twelve hours or so to not have your events spoiled, or are you going to risk it so you can get a little bit of that social media fix?" she says. 

Even though many viewers may already know the results, Nielsen ratings were higher for the London games' first three nights compared to numbers at the start of the Beijing games.

This story was informed by WAMU's Public Insight Network. For more information, visit wamu.org/pin.

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