Oh yeah, this sounds like a great idea.
According to a work order posted online Monday, the Secret Service is looking to purchase software that will detect sarcasm on social media, among other things. (Via Federal Business Opportunities)
As you can probably imagine, this brought out every headline writer's best material. Great job, guys.
While this might sound like a joke, we can assure you it's not. These guys don't exactly look like the joking type now, do they? (Via Flickr / Chuck Patch)
The Washington Post spoke with a Secret Service spokesperson who said the agency currently uses FEMA Twitter analytics, but wants to create its own.
"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 aren't looking solely to detect sarcasm."
Also on the list, "the ability to identify social media influencers, analyze data streams in real time, access old Twitter data and use heat maps."
While the men in suits are easy targets for jokes - the work order said the software has to be compatible with Internet Explorer 8 for Pete's sake - Time points out "when your job is to protect the president's life and watch for potential dangers, the ability to analyze sarcasm and weed out 'false positives'-like dumb teenagers making joking threats-is probably worth the money."
But unfortunately, computers still aren't very good at detecting sarcasm in text.
A 2011 Rutgers University study took hundreds of tweets that used the hashtag #sarcasm or #sarcastic, removed the hashtag then fed the rest of the tweet through a computer program. The software identified the sarcastic tweet just 65 percent of the time.
We're guessing the Secret Service would want something a little more accurate than that, since we're talking about keeping the president alive here and all. So if you have a better program, you have until June 9 at 5pm to submit. Wow. That's soooo much time.