The US Secret Service is looking to develop a Twitter sarcasm detector.
The agency wants the software to help it judge whether to take specific threats on social media seriously.
In a tender notice posted online, the agency is offering a contract for analytics software with the “ability to detect sarcasm and false positives”.
It will also collect everything from the emotions of internet users to old Twitter messages.
Ed Donovan, spokesman for the Secret Service, emphasised that detecting sarcasm is just one of the features of the proposed software.
He said: “Our objective is to automate our social media monitoring process. “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 quantify our social media outreach. We aren’t looking solely to detect sarcasm.”
The software deal will cover a five-year period, and the agency will accept proposals until June 9.
But in a sign that the agency’s software is not completely up to date, the tender notice says the Twitter trawler must be compatible with Internet Explorer 8 – released in 2006.
The agency currently uses the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Twitter analysis platform.