The Secret Service Looks to Software to Help it Identify Sarcasm

Anyone familiar with the U.S. Secret Service knows that they are tasked with protecting the U.S. president from all manner of threats, both foreign and domestic.

There have been a string of serious threats made over the years, which were made by people who seemed to have been incapable of actually carrying them out. But, despite the suspects’ capabilities, these threats often resulted in the person making the threat getting a visit from the secret service.

Other threats have seemed to be more or less jokes or issued sarcastically, and many of these have even resulted in the CIA visiting the threat maker. Now, in an attempt to help the agency determine true threats from simple sarcasm, the Secret Service is turning to technology.

The Secret Service recently issued a work order, which was posted online, that said that the agency is looking to purchase software that has the “ability to detect sarcasm and false positives,” and will assist it when reviewing commentary posted on social media. Additionally, the software should have “access to historical Twitter data,” and have the “ability to search online content in multiple languages.”

The work order is apparently in response to the increasing technological needs of the agency, and the fact that many of the threats it investigates originate online.

Not surprisingly, the work order itself was the catalyst for an endless stream of sarcastic remarks which were posted all over social media and the Internet. But, the fact that the agency is looking to use technology to help it cut through sarcastic remarks and jokes and better identify true threats is telling.

In a world in which vast quantities of information, particularly commentaries and opinions, are posted online every second, the Secret Service is apparently looking for a more automated way to determine which threats are real.