THE UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE has requested pitches for a software package that can detect sarcasm in social media.
As we all sleep soundly in our beds, secure in the knowledge that our emails are being monitored, the one thing that has so far eluded the US intelligence community is a sense of irony, and the US Secret Service is looking for software to address this gap.
The successful bidder will need to present a solution with "the ability to detect sarcasm and false positives".
A spokesperson told the Washington Post, "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."
Sarcasm relies heavily on non-verbal communication and that factor is missing from most internet communications, which can lead to misunderstandings.
Last year, a Texas teenager was jailed for a misguided but sarcastic tweet in which he said, "Oh yeah, I'm real messed up in the head, I'm going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts, lol jk".
The 19-year old was jailed on remand, unable to make the $500,000 bail. In a similar case in the UK, Paul Chambers 'threatened' to blow up Robin Hood airport after a snowstorm flight delay and was arrested for making a terrorist threat.
It seems that the spooks believe that software will put an end to these kinds of misunderstandings, saving valuable resources and damages payments.
Also worth mentioning is that the successful bidder must ensure that their proposed software is compatible with Internet Explorer 8, which means the Secret Service is really up to date with its software updates. Yeah, right. µ
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