"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