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What Are The Social Media Rules For Reality TV Contestants? It Can Be Intense

Posting on Instagram is a fraught process for many reality TV stars — after all, the smallest detail can be a show spoiler.

By Becca van Sambeck

Naturally, when you love a TV show, you want to know how it ends. But while you're not going to find many secrets about where fictional shows are going, it can be easier to find out what happens in reality television — after all, you're just trying to deduce what actually happened to real people, who have friends, family, and social media accounts.

That doesn't mean reality TV producers aren't vigilant about avoiding spoilers, though. It just means they have to come up with some rules to prevent leaks, especially when it comes to how contestants use social media. After all, eagle-eyed fans will keep an eye on who follows who, and who's liked what photo.

Most shows, for example, like "Temptation Island," don't even let contestants use phones when they're participating in the show — not only does it stop them from letting certain info loose to loved ones, but it also helps them focus on building a connection and fully participating in the show, according to "Variety." There's not even a WiFi connection in the home "Love Is Blind" contestants stay in.

In fact, Ronnie from "Jersey Shore" even said the lack of cell phone use contributed to the show's drama and romance, telling "Vulture" hookups happen after "being around somebody 30 days straight with no television, no cell phone, and you can’t really leave the house too much."

Of course, some shows have loosened the rules on cellular use: On "The Ultimatum," for example, participants can use their phone, according to "Women's Health."

"The Real World" has also allowed people to start using phones, according to “Real World” executive producer Jim Johnston, as it feels more true to the way young people operate today. However, they can't use their real phones, he told "The Seattle Times." Instead, they get phones from production. Producers monitor their texts and calls to make sure they aren't leaking show secrets, and their social media access is restricted.

“We don’t want publicity on storylines on social media ahead of the show airing,” Johnston said.

Even after the show films, casts on all reality shows are warned about the kind of photos and comments they can post to avoid spoilers.

But what happens if you don't follow the rules?

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Well, all contestants sign hefty contracts with confidentiality clauses included in them. Breaking that kind of clause typically leads to a serious fine, according to "Men's Health." Nobody wants to risk a monetary hit!

"You sign all kinds of paperwork, confidentiality and whatnot," David Ravitz, who has appeared on "The Bachelor" franchise, told Refinery29. "You know it all has to be secretive and you’re not supposed to talk about behind the scenes, you’re not supposed to talk about relationships that form."

However, shows do understand some people in your life will know a bit about what's going on, like your family. That means they have to understand the need for secrecy too.

"[The family] had to sign a confidentiality agreement, basically that you’re not going to run off and say all this stuff," fellow "Bachelor" franchise member Bibiana Julian told Refinery29.

When it came to what they told their friends when they came back, Ravitz said he ultimately opted to keep as quiet as he could.

"I tried to not give as much information as possible," Ravitz said. "They obviously knew kind of the filming schedule and they knew the commitment involved and when I came home on the earlier end they knew I wasn’t engaged. So I told them it was a great experience, we’ll get to watch it back together and see how it all unfolded. I wanted to keep them in the dark. Watching it back with them and hanging out with them and talking with them about it was more fun for them than actually knowing what’s gonna happen. I kept them in the dark plus it’s kind of fun for me to know what is about to happen and they have no idea."

Production, they said, will advise you when it comes to posting on social media so you don't accidentally spoil anything.

"You become friends with the producers. One of them, I talk to her all the time, I sent her this photo and I was like, can I post this? And she was like, ‘I would wait,’" Julian told Refinery29. "They just really want to make sure."

Head over to Peacock to watch reality TV like "Temptation Island," "The Traitors," and more.