Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Press A[euro][approximately]irony' Button; a[euro][approximately]Sentiment Analysis' ... Surely the Spooks Must Be Making a Joke

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Press A[euro][approximately]irony' Button; a[euro][approximately]Sentiment Analysis' ... Surely the Spooks Must Be Making a Joke

Article excerpt

Byline: Sean O'Grady

SO THE American Secret Service is looking for a way to detect sarcasm on Twitter. Of course they are.

Keen to develop a way of automating its social media monitoring service, the spy agency has put out a tender to find a company able to develop a program allowing its computers to filter sarcastic threats from serious ones, as well as conducting "sentiment analysis".

Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, apparently claimed, without a trace of irony: "The ability to detect sarcasm and false positives is just one of 16 or 18 things we are looking at."

Yeah, right. Not. There is nothing easier to spot with a bit of clever programming and smart algorithms. Language experts may suggest they pick up on the idea - entirely serious and po-faced after all - put forward by the mischievous journalist Bernard Levin when he suggested there should be a special typeface named "ironic", so Americans could detect the presence of irony.

It would be quite simple to introduce this on a global scale, across every language, and culture, and have Twitter, Google and others in the more traditional media agree to it. …

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