U.S. Secret Service Requests Software to "Detect Sarcasm" on Twitter

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U.S. Secret Service Requests Software to "Detect Sarcasm" on Twitter

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"The ability to detect sarcasm and false positives is just one of 16 or 18 things we are looking at," a Secret Service spokesperson told The Washington Post.

Communicating online can be tough. In a text-only environment, the loss of nuance given from a tone of voice can make it difficult for a lot of people to tell whether or not something's meant to be taken seriously. Just ask the U.S. Secret Service.

The group, whose responsibilities include the protection of national leaders and investigating financial crimes, posted an online work order earlier this week looking for analytic software capable of "synthesizing large sets of social media data and visually presenting the data," according to The Washington Post. Among the Secret Service's requests for the software is "the ability to detect sarcasm and false positives."

Secret Service spokesperson Ed Donovan told the Post that the requested software would allow his organization to create its own system for monitoring Twitter, which the Post says would cover the service's own social media footprint and items trending on the social network. And while it does sounds like the NSA-style spying that's frequently in the media these days, Donovan gives an example to the Post as to how the technology can be put towards more civilian interests:

For example, Donovan said, when people were holding purple tickets to the 2009 inauguration and were trapped inside a tunnel under the Capitol, unable to get through security gates, the Secret Service could have, perhaps, done something about it with the right information.

The sarcasm detections is actually intended to be just a small feature of the requested program, Donovan said.

"Our objective is to automate our social media monitoring process. Twitter is what we analyze. This is real time stream analysis . 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 quantity our social media outreach," he said. "We aren't looking solely to detect sarcasm."

The new program sounds like a lot of work, but we're sure the Secret Service will get it up in no time. Super sure.

Source: The Washington Post

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Well unfortunately for the secret service, every time we try to build a sarcasm detector it explodes because of there being too much sarcasm detected.

*sigh*
Remember when the Secret Service tried to be secret about spying on it's citizens. (let's face it, they always have been doing it anyway) :P

Oh god imagine trying to use it in the UN everytime a major EU nation talks to America... dear god the explosions would be several megatons large. XD

I'm sure this will end well for all involved.

/sarcasm

Nowhere Man:
I'm sure this will end well for all involved.

/sarcasm

All they need to do is look for the "/sarcasm" tags.

I've figured it out, guys. I'm expecting my 20 million dollars soon, thanks. Add that to the $4 mill I'll be getting from that Nigerian dude, and I'll be stinkin rich!

The best thing about this story is that it sounds like sarcasm.

SKBPinkie:

Nowhere Man:
I'm sure this will end well for all involved.

/sarcasm

All they need to do is look for the "/sarcasm" tags.

I've figured it out, guys. I'm expecting my 20 million dollars soon, thanks. Add that to the $4 mill I'll be getting from that Nigerian dude, and I'll be stinkin rich!

*Ding ding ding* Sarcasm detected, I repeat, sarcasm detected. Send the men in suits and cool sunglasses.

image
Because someone was bound to post this anyway.

But seriously, how would they do it? Do they secretly have mind-reading devices or something?

There is a punctuation mark used for sarcasm, it's called the Irony punctuation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony_punctuation). Now if people would just use it, that'd be perfect.

SKBPinkie:

Nowhere Man:
I'm sure this will end well for all involved.

/sarcasm

All they need to do is look for the "/sarcasm" tags.

I've figured it out, guys. I'm expecting my 20 million dollars soon, thanks. Add that to the $4 mill I'll be getting from that Nigerian dude, and I'll be stinkin rich!

I sometimes also use purple text.

Maybe it should just be mandatory that sarcasm be always formatted with purple text.

We can solve this problem, we have the punctuation! Everyone just needs to start using the 'sarcastrophe'.

http://www.8020comms.com/blog/2011/11/express-yourself-the-wonderful-world-of-interrobangs-and-sarcastrophes/

Also, this is a ^great^ use of taxpayer money.

That's easy to program.

If it's mentioned on twitter, it's sarcasm.

I predict this will work astoundingly. They will be so successful they will get noble prizes in linguistics for their effort. Nothing inspires me more than the tireless efforts of selfless public servants performing their duties for the greater good. I am crying manly patriotic tears just thinking about it.

Really Secret Service? Are you just getting straight up troll tier now or are you that divorced from reality? I like to imagine he gave those answers in a really salty, patronizing, sarcastic tone XD

Sidmen:
I sometimes also use purple text.

Maybe it should just be mandatory that sarcasm be always formatted with purple text.

Yeahhhh.. suuure. That would be REALLY useful. That would be soooo useful im going to do it right now. Look at me doing it right now. You had SUUUCH a good idea. You just solved all of the world's problems, bravo.

Gotta respect the Secret Services for their ability take everything seriously.

Seriously, why so serious?

I have the utmost respect for the secret service of those United States of America. Their ability to parse through the complex social interaction of the internet strikes me breathless. Bravo, good sirs.

Given how good American human beings are at detecting sarcasm, I have my reservations about how well an American computer program can.

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAA*Inhalesdeeply*HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAA...

Wow, that's, I don't even, wow.

I used to need one of those, but for real life. Then I learned/mastered the art of Sarcasm. I'm so good at it people actually realize when I'm being sarcastic now o.o

Also, how could software determine whether one is being sarcastic or not, since sarcasm requires, y'know, enunciation and proper ways of saying certain words, I mean the closest we can really pull off on the internet is to italicize things, and...well, that's limited in it's use at best.

I don't have any faith in software that can actually detect sarcasm. Your best bet is an analyst, and even then, people are abysmal at detecting sarcasm in text format.

TheRightToArmBears:
Given how good American human beings are at detecting sarcasm, I have my reservations about how well an American computer program can.

Either you are being sarcastic, or you actually think Americans are worse at detecting it than everyone else, which isn't true.

This could be proof that humans suck at detecting sarcasm in text format, as I stated above.

Scrumpmonkey:
Really Secret Service? Are you just getting straight up troll tier now or are you that divorced from reality? I like to imagine he gave those answers in a really salty, patronizing, sarcastic tone XD

Sidmen:
I sometimes also use purple text.

Maybe it should just be mandatory that sarcasm be always formatted with purple text.

Yeahhhh.. suuure. That would be REALLY useful. That would be soooo useful im going to do it right now. Look at me doing it right now. You had SUUUCH a good idea. You just solved all of the world's problems, bravo.

See, it works. I can tell you're being sarcastic because I see the text is purple. Otherwise I would've believed that you were being sincere in your praise. Congrats, you hurt my feelings with my own idea - good job sir.

I'm proud that my government is finding a way to do what even normal people can't do on the internet. *applauds and salutes*

The SS wants to detect sarcasm.

"Oh, GOOD FOR YOUUUUU!" *axe* *axe* *axe!*

It's surprising how many people have difficulty even with the most obvious sarcasm.

I've found it's much faster and simpler to just explicitly mark anything I say that isn't serious since I'm one hell of a sarky beggar and being less sarcastic has proven too difficult for me; so, to that end, I've got into the habit of using an exclamation point, within brackets, to denote sarcasm as this is the way it is rendered in the subtitling of UK television.

I'm pretty sure I read awhile ago that some group somewhere (yes, my memory is terrible) had already created a program that analysed thousands of tweets and/or forum posts to 'learn' sarcasm and then detect it but there was a slight problem in that the accuracy wasn't exactly stupendous (50~70% correct detection iirc).

Neronium:
Well unfortunately for the secret service, every time we try to build a sarcasm detector it explodes because of there being too much sarcasm detected.

*sigh*
Remember when the Secret Service tried to be secret about spying on it's citizens. (let's face it, they always have been doing it anyway) :P

dammit i wanted to post that

i guess ill settle for this one

personally this is one of the dumbest ideas ive heard, detecting sarcasm outside of the internet requires taking into account a plendora of variables, such as context, tone, social norms, and your existing knowledge of the person you are talking to

detecting sarcasm on the internet is even harder because things like tone and knowledge of the sarcastic person, usually dont exist

in conclusion, good jod US Secret Service, you bunch of damn geniuses

"sarcasm doesn't work in print" because, simplistically, when we write we hear the words in our mind as if they were being spoken and thus with the "inflection"/"delivery"...but the "inflection"/"delivery" (that would normally socially flag something as being deliberately "sarcastic in tone") is not conveyed through the written words onto the page.

so...they're planning to read our minds ?...

I am mostly against this because it is unwanted monitoring, but it is not privacy invasion. Anything posted to Twitter is publicly available so they are not breaching anything by reading it.

Baresark:

TheRightToArmBears:
Given how good American human beings are at detecting sarcasm, I have my reservations about how well an American computer program can.

Either you are being sarcastic, or you actually think Americans are worse at detecting it than everyone else, which isn't true.

I'm not saying they're worse at detecting sarcasm than everyone else. I'm saying they're worse at detecting sarcasm than British people.

Now they just have to integrate this into Google glass and they can fix Sheldonism.

Chimpzy:
But seriously, how would they do it? Do they secretly have mind-reading devices or something?

There's actually some pretty serious science going on for this sort of thing, usually under the heading of "sentiment detection" or "sentiment analysis". Most projects use machine learning techniques like naive Bayes or support vector machine classifiers. The details of that sort of thing are way too long and esoteric to get into here, but basically they take a dataset of known sarcastic text, show it to the algorithm they're using and tell it "These are sarcasm", then let the algorithm infer what features make the text sarcastic. There's a Dutch group that got a 75% success rate at identifying sarcastic text on Twitter, so there's definitely something to it.

IF this were to be a thing, I'd love for some sites to give a prompt to people answering comments, something along the lines of "this is sarcasm, you dumbass".

Sleekit:
"sarcasm doesn't work in print" because, simplistically, when we write we hear the words in our mind as if they were being spoken and thus with the "inflection"/"delivery"...but the "inflection"/"delivery" (that would normally socially flag something as being deliberately "sarcastic in tone") is not conveyed through the written words onto the page.

so...they're planning to read our minds ?...

when i read this article i was thinking of the league of legends guy who got sent to prison last year for saying something on facebook i absolutely thought from the tone it was sarcastic but i guess that doesn't always come across

shadowxvii:
There is a punctuation mark used for sarcasm, it's called the Irony punctuation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony_punctuation). Now if people would just use it, that'd be perfect.

Holy shit, son! I didn't know that shit existed! Shit! I keep learning something new on the internet every single day![1]!

OT: Yeah... Good luck with that...

[1] How the hell do you even translate that "Irony Punctuation" into context?! Oh wait... Found it[!]

I... Seriously? Of all the goddamn inane things, fucking sarcasm detector? Will someone tell the current administration Hollywood is fake, its all special effects wizardry... and that the Simpsons are cartoons, as in not reality.

shadowxvii:
There is a punctuation mark used for sarcasm, it's called the Irony punctuation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony_punctuation). Now if people would just use it, that'd be perfect.

What, that's amazing!
I've always been annoyed that there was no punctuation for sarcasm but there actually is.
It's something that needs to be taught in schools, I have no idea why it isn't already.
Fuck, I'm just so happy about finding this out, irrationally so.

Its actually possible to detect sarcasm with a machine?
Might be interesting, if it wasn't for THEIR hands

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