Skip to main content

The Secret Service is unable to detect sarcasm online, wants software that can help

secret service wants to detect sarcasm
Photo via Secret Service website Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Secret Service, a law enforcement organization tasked with protecting the president from bullets and crazy people, may have the social skills of Sheldon Cooper. The agency appears to have a hard time recognizing sarcasm and is looking to science to help with its shortcomings.

In a work order posted online earlier this week, the federal agency said that it is looking to buy software that has the “ability to detect sarcasm and false positives” in social media. It wants a commitment, offering a purchasing agreement for a period of five years.  

Aside from sarcasm detection, the work order also outlined other requirements such as “access to historical Twitter data,” “influencer identification,” “ability to search online content in multiple languages,” and “compatibility with Internet Explorer 8.”

The Secret Service’s desire for sarcasm detection software may be due to threatening tweets sent to candidates.

“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 quantity our social media outreach … We aren’t looking solely to detect sarcasm,” Ed Donovan, a spokesman for the Secret Service, told the Washington Post

The Secret Service’s desire for sarcasm detection software may be due to threatening tweets sent to candidates during the 2012 presidential election. Two weeks before voters went to the polls, there were 6.5 million posts on Twitter about the election, including some that issued death threats to President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney. 

Two men ended up in jail for sending out Twitter death threats. Jarvis Britton, a 26-year old from Birmingham, Alabama, was sentenced to one year in prison. In September 2012, he sent out a tweet that read: “free speech? Really? Let’s test this! Let’s kill the president!”

Donte Jamar Sims, a 22-year old from North Carolina, was sentenced to six months in prison after posting threatening tweets before President Obama’s arrival in Charlotte for a campaign event. He posted tweets that said “Ima Assassinate president Obama this evening!” and “The Secret Service is gonna be defenseless once I aim the Assault Rifle at Barack’s Forehead.” He claimed that he was high on marijunana when he sent out the tweets and later sent an apology letter to President Obama. 

In the United States, it is a felony to threaten a president. Offenders may be punished with a fine and a maximum five year prison sentence. Had a sarcasm detector been around then, the Secret Service may have instantly figured out Britton’s and Sim’s true intentions, and the deeper meaning of the statement “Let’s kill the president.” If you think you can provide such a technological breakthrough, you have until June 9 to send the Secret Service a proposal.

Christian Brazil Bautista
Christian Brazil Bautista is an experienced journalist who has been writing about technology and music for the past decade…
These Sennheiser All-Day OTC self-fitting hearing aids are $500 off
A man wears the Sennheiser All-Day Clear OTC hearing aid while on a hike.

A less-considered piece of tech that can go a long way toward helping the hard of hearing better interact with the world is a hearing aid. Right now you can save big at Best Buy on the Sennheiser All-Day Clear over-the-counter hearing aids. They would regularly cost $1,500 for a pair, but this deal sees them marked down to $1,000, which makes for $500 in savings. Free next-day shipping is available, and you can even pick the hearing aids up at your nearest Best Buy within one hour in many areas.

Why you should buy the Sennheiser All-Day Clear OTC hearing aid
Sennheiser is one of the more sought after brand names in consumer audio, and it’s almost always in consideration to be one of the best speaker brands. With the All-Day Clear hearing aids Sennheiser has taken all of that audio know-how and produced its first over-the-counter hearing aids. They’re made for those with mild to moderate hearing loss who are looking for a better hearing experience. They come ready to wear and combine clear, vibrant hearing performance with seamless connectivity. The All-Day Clear hearing aids have advanced sound processing technologies for better hearing and a range of customizable settings for a personalized experience.

Read more
Is the Facebook algorithm bypass a scam? Or is it a hack?
The viral Facebook algorithm bypass post is nonsense.

Here we go again, folks. It's not uncommon — especially at this time of year for some reason — to start seeing all kinds of people posting the same thing on Facebook. Something about somehow "bypassing the Facebook system" or about how you hereby disallow Facebook from doing something that you absolutely allowed it to do by using Facebook in the first place.

No, it's not a Facebook hack. No, you're not telling Facebook to do anything. Or not to do anything. And, no, someone who posts this sort of stuff isn't deserving of mockery. In fact, this isn't new at all. Meta (nee Facebook) itself addressed it as far back as 2019.

Read more
Apple AirTag, Samsung Galaxy SmartTag2, Tile Mate prices slashed
Person holding an Apple AirTag.

If you're always losing and misplacing stuff, you may want to invest in Bluetooth trackers. These handy devices can be placed or attached to any object -- and even held by people or pets! If you think they'll be very useful for you, there are three options with discounts right now from Amazon -- the Tile Mate for $18, down $7 from $25; the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag2 for $20, down $10 from $30; and the Apple AirTag for $27, down $2 from $29. You're going to have to hurry if you want to take advantage of any of these offers though, especially if you're planning to buy multiples, because they may expire at any moment.
Tile Mate -- 

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag2 -- 

Read more