Facebook will not fact-check politicians

US (GN): Facebook says it will treat all posts by politicians as “newsworthy content” that should “be seen and heard”.

The company said politicians would be exempt from its fact-checking scheme which is designed to reduce the spread of fake news and misinformation. It said it did not want to be the “referee” in political debates or prevent politicians’ posts from reaching their intended audience. However, it did not define who it counted as a politician.

On Tuesday, Facebook’s vice president of communications - the former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Nick Clegg - gave a speech in Washington DC.

He said the company had “made mistakes in 2016” and said Russia had tried to use Facebook to interfere with the US presidential election.

He insisted the company had taken steps to prevent it happening again. Facebook uses independent third-party fact-checking organisations to help identity fake news, misleading claims and misinformation. However, it said posts made by politicians would not be fact-checked.

Sir Nick also said Facebook would let politicians post content that breaks its rules on topics such as hate speech, as long as they did not pose a significant “risk of harm”. But advertisements on Facebook must still abide by the rules.

Sir Nick said Facebook’s role was to “make sure there is a level playing field, not to be a political participant ourselves”.

Boston Dynamics robot dog Spot goes on sale

LONDON (BBC): A robotics company whose creations have amassed millions of views on YouTube, is renting out one of its stars, Spot.

Anyone wishing to lease the quadruped dog-like robot could do so for “less than the price of a car,” Boston Dynamics told IEEE Spectrum.

It suggested Spot could be useful in construction, the oil and gas industry and for those working in public safety.

One expert said its appeal may be limited by its price, which will be determined by demand.

Noel Sharkey, robotics experts and professor of computer science at Sheffield University, said “Spot is possibly the world’s finest example of a quadruped robot and since the addition of a robot arm, it seems a little more practical - but will it be practical enough at that price?

“Their big example of the robot working in construction could pay off.

“They can reach places that humans find difficult, run across bricks and accompany builders carrying their loads of tools and bricks or map out districts for construction.”