News Column

US Secret Service is seeking Twitter 'sarcasm' detector

June 5, 2014





WASHINGTON - The US Secret Service has put out a work tender looking for a software system to analyse social media data in order to "detect sarcasm and false positives".

The agency advertised on the Federal Business Opportunities website, saying the device needs to accurately analyse social media data so it can detect potential threats to national security.

A spokesman for the service said they were using the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Twitter analytics but needed their own, and added: "We aren't looking solely to detect sarcasm."

According to CBS News, a work order posted online Monday shows that the agency desires analytics software that can watch users in real time, collecting a range of data including "emotions of Internet users to old Twitter messages" across multiple languages.

The Secret Service is also seeking software that can complete very succinct tasks within massive sets of continuously flowing social media data, such as locating users and detecting sarcasm.

"Ability to detect sarcasm and false positives," reads the request.

"The Secret Service has had a Twitter account for several years. We are trying to procure a tool that can automate the social media monitoring process; synthesizing large sets of social media data," spokesman Brian Leary told CBS News.

Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, says the request would allow the agency to monitor important trending topics as well as monitoring their own Twitter, digital footprint.

The Washington Post quoted Ed Donovan as saying: "Our objective is to automate our social media monitoring process. Twitter is what we analyse.

"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."

"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 quantify our social media outreach," he told The Washington Post. "We aren't looking solely to detect sarcasm."

Tech experts note that anti-snarky software is not currently available.

"We are not currently aware of any automated technology that could do that (detect sarcasm). No one is considered a leader in that," Jamie Martin, a data acquisition engineer at Sioux Falls, South Dakota based Bright Planet, told CBS News.

The agency's move has been criticised by the twitterati.

Dennis @dennisthecynic wrote:"The Secret Service is going to use software to determine sarcasm on social media. In other news, I quit twitter."

Joseph Cota @AntiFish03 wrote: "Crap this is a weird day in surveillance news.."

More than 110,000 people follow the agency's @secretservice Twitter handle, which it has used to relay news and post job openings. In 2011, the agency was forced to apologize after an employee accidentally tweeted out an insult to the Fox News network on the official account.


For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel



Source: Big News Network (United Arab Emirates)


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