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 is looking to buy software that can detect sarcasm on social media. Whatever. We’re sure it will work. In a work order posted online Monday, the agency said it wants analytics software that can, among other things, synthesize large sets of social media data and visually present that data. The request for proposals was first reported by nextgov.com. More specifically, the orders ask for a long list of specific tools, including the ability to identify social media influencers, analyze data streams in real time, access old Twitter data and use heat maps. And it wants the software to be compatible with Internet Explorer 8. (The agency is asking for a blanket purchasing agreement over a five-year period, which shows just how often the government updates its technology.) Then there’s the request to sift through the heaps of snark on Twitter and other social media services: “Ability to detect sarcasm and false positives,” the request reads. Think you’re up to the job? You’re probably not, but the Secret Service is accepting proposals until June 9 at 5 p.m.