News Column

EDITORIAL: Nothing could possibly go wrong

June 7, 2014

The Virginian-Pilot

June 07--No eye-rolling allowed: The Secret Service hopes to buy software that can detect sarcasm on social media.

This is such a great idea!

Such a marvelous tool could revolutionize the way stone-faced G-men, oblivious to winking emoticons and ironic exclamation points, conduct their work.

Earlier this week, the Secret Service posted a work order to request software capable of synthesizing large sets of social media data and visually presenting data.

Then it "liked" the request on Facebook, and tweeted with the hashtag #notkidding.

The work order described a number of specifications, including "Ability to detect sarcasm and false positives."

Seriously, so brilliant.

A Secret Service spokesman said the agency has been using analytics from FEMA to monitor Twitter, but needs its own.

"Our objective is to automate our social media monitoring process. Twitter is what we analyze. This is real time stream analysis," spokesman Ed Donovan told The Washington Post. "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."

In a separate work order, the Secret Service requested badges with built-in breathalyzers to sense when its agents might pass out drunk in hotel hallways while on assignment. Another work order outlines specs for currency with a "nefarious purposes" indicator so that it cannot be used to solicit prostitutes.

Our work request for a sarcasm font remains unfilled.


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Source: Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA)

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