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Secret Service Requests Software To Track Social Media Trends, Detect Sarcasm

Benjamin Fearnow
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The U.S. Secret Service is seeking software that can identify top influencers and trending sets of social media data, allowing the agency to monitor these streams in real-time – and sift through the sarcasm.  (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. Secret Service is seeking software that can identify top influencers and trending sets of social media data, allowing the agency to monitor these streams in real-time – and sift through the sarcasm. (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The U.S. Secret Service is seeking software that can identify top influencers and trending sets of social media data, allowing the agency to monitor these streams in real-time – and sift through the sarcasm.

A work order posted online Monday shows that the agency desires analytics software that can watch users in real time, collecting a range of data including “emotions of Internet users to old Twitter messages” across multiple languages.

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The Secret Service is also seeking software that can complete very succinct tasks within massive sets of continuously flowing social media data, such as locating users and detecting sarcasm.

“Ability to detect sarcasm and false positives,” reads the request.

“The Secret Service has had a Twitter account for several years. We are trying to procure a tool that can automate the social media monitoring process; synthesizing large sets of social media data,” spokesman Brian Leary told CBS News.

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Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, says the request would allow the agency to monitor important trending topics as well as monitoring their own Twitter, digital footprint. The Washington Post reports that Donovan’s example is a 2009 inauguration problem in which people were trapped in a Capitol tunnel and unable to reach the security gates. If the Secret Service had known through real-time social media, they could have remedied the situation more quickly.

The Secret Service is currently using FEMA Twitter analytics currently, according to Donovan, adding that the sarcasm feature is a very minute.

“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,” he told The Washington Post. “We aren’t looking solely to detect sarcasm.”

Tech experts, however, note that anti-snarky software is not currently available.

“We are not currently aware of any automated technology that could do that (detect sarcasm). No one is considered a leader in that,” Jamie Martin, a data acquisition engineer at Sioux Falls, SD based Bright Planet, told CBS News.

– Benjamin Fearnow

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