The US Secret Service Is Looking To Buy A Sarcasm Detector For Twitter

Secret Service

You would think you would probably be able to tell if something was sarcastic just by looking at it, but the U.S. Secret Service wants to develop software to help them with this.

The US Secret Service posted details online yesterday of a contract they were offering for analytics software that was able to detect sarcasm on Twitter. This is presumably to analyse whether people saying stuff like ‘Fuk you Heathrow airport, I’m gonna bomb the shit out of ya’ are actually being serious or not.

You would think that someone would be able to tell that just by looking at the Twitter feed itself and the user  who was using it (and probably the fact that nobody who actually wanted to bomb a fucking airport would brag about it beforehand on social media), but apparently it’s better if a computer does this now. I mean what could go wrong with that?

I guess it at least eliminates human error, and given the fact that we hear about someone saying something stupid on Twitter almost every day and getting fucked up the ass because of it, that can only be a good thing right. Providing said analytics software actually works that is – apparently it’s going to take into account variables such as user emotion and previous tweets, which should be really useful when determining if their threats are real.

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Sadly the Secret Service didn’t exactly look that tech savvy though when it said that any analytics software that was submitted must be compatible with Internet Explorer 6, which is not only Internet Explorer for crying out loud but is also an outdated version of it which was first released in 2006. It’s good to know that the guys looking after us are fighting the latest criminal technology with something a five year old kid probably wouldn’t use to go on Wikipedia on, right?

Obviously a bunch of people laughed at the fact that the Secret Service needs a tool to detect sarcasm when most people can detect it really easily, so spokesperson Ed Donovan came out with the following statement to clarify what they were actually doing: ‘Our objective is to automate our social media monitoring process.The ability to detect sarcasm and false positives is just one of 16 or 18 things we are looking at. We are looking for the ability to quantify our social media outreach. We aren’t looking solely to detect sarcasm.’

Cool, really glad he cleared that up. The contract is for five years and is probably for a shit ton of money, so if you think you’ve got what it takes (and want to work on Internet Explorer 6) then hit them up – you’ve got until June 9th.


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