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Subject: US Secret Service seeks Twitter sarcasm detector

Written By: Philip Eno on 06/05/14 at 5:42 am

The US Secret Service is seeking a Twitter sarcasm detector.

The agency has put out a work tender looking for a software system to analyse social media data.

The software should have, among other things, the "ability to detect sarcasm and false positives".

A spokesman for the service said it currently used the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Twitter analytics and needed its own, adding: "We aren't looking solely to detect sarcasm."

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."

Prism controversy

The tender was put out earlier this week on the US government's Federal Business Opportunities website.

It sets out the objectives of automating social media monitoring and "synthesising large sets of social media data".

Specific requirements include "audience and geographic segmentation" and analysing "sentiment and trend".

The software also has to have "compatibility with Internet Explorer 8". The browser was released more than five years ago.

The agency does not detail the purpose of the analysis but does set out its mission, which includes "preserving the integrity of the economy and protecting national leaders and visiting heads of state and government".

The US has been under intense pressure on surveillance in the wake of revelations by Ed Snowden, the fugitive former technical worker for the CIA.

Last year he leaked details of the US National Security Agency's Prism scheme, which could access detailed records of individual smartphone and internet activity.

His documents alleged the NSA had access on a massive scale to individual chat logs, stored data, voice traffic, file transfers and social networking data of individuals.

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