David and Barbara Mikkelson created an urban folklore
web site that would become Snopes.com. Snopes was an early online encyclopedia
focused on urban legends, that mainly presented search results of user discussions. The site grew to encompass a wide range of subjects and became a resource to which Internet users began submitting pictures and stories of questionable veracity. According to the Mikkelsons, Snopes predated the search engine
concept of fact-checking via search results.
David Mikkelson had originally adopted the username "Snopes" (the name of a family of often unpleasant people in the works of William Faulkner
in the Usenet
In 2002, the site had become known well enough that a television pilot
called Snopes: Urban Legends
was completed with American actor Jim Davidson
as host. However, it did not air on major networks.
By 2010, the site was attracting seven million to eight million unique visitors in an average month.
By mid-2014, Barbara had not written for Snopes "in several years"
and David was forced to hire users from Snopes.com's message board to assist him in running the site. The Mikkelsons divorced around that time. Christopher Richmond
and Drew Schoentrup became part owners in July 2016 with the purchase of Barbara Mikkelson's share by the internet media management company Proper Media.
On March 9, 2017, David Mikkelson terminated the brokering agreement with Proper Media, which is also the company that provides Snopes with web development
, and advertising
This prompted Proper Media to stop remitting advertising revenue and to file a lawsuit in May. In late June, Bardav—the company founded by David and Barbara Mikkelson in 2003 to own and operate snopes.com—started a GoFundMe
campaign to raise money to continue operations.
They raised $500,000 in 24 hours.
Later, in August, a judge ordered Proper Media to disburse advertising revenues to Bardav while the case was pending.
In early 2019, Snopes announced that it had acquired the website OnTheIssues.org
, and is "hard at work modernizing its extensive archives".
OnTheIssues is a website that seeks to "present all the relevant evidence, assess how strongly each piece supports or opposes a position, and summarize it with an average" in order to "provide voters with reliable information on candidates’ policy positions".
Currently, Vinny Green serves as Chief Operating Officer.
Mikkelson has stressed the reference
portion of the name Urban Legends Reference Pages
, indicating that their intention is not merely to dismiss or confirm misconceptions and rumors but to provide evidence for such debunkings and confirmation as well.
Where appropriate, pages are generally marked "undetermined" or "unverifiable" when there is not enough evidence to either support or disprove a given claim.
In an attempt to demonstrate the perils of over-reliance on the Internet as authority, Snopes assembled a series of fabricated urban folklore tales that it terms "The Repository of Lost Legends".
The name was chosen for its acronym, T.R.O.L.L., a reference to the early 1990s definition of the word troll
, meaning an Internet prank or an Internet persona intended to be deliberately provocative or incendiary.
This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (April 2021)
Jan Harold Brunvand
, a folklorist
who has written a number of books on urban legends and modern folklore, considered the site so comprehensive that in 2004 he decided not to launch one of his own to similarly discuss the accuracy of various legends and rumors.
In 2012, The Florida Times-Union
reported that About.com
's urban legends researcher found a "consistent effort to provide even-handed analyses" and that Snopes' cited sources and numerous reputable analyses of its content confirm its accuracy.
Mikkelson has said that the site receives more complaints of liberal bias than conservative bias, but added that the same debunking standards are applied to all political urban legends.
The Babylon Bee controversy
The satirical news articles presented by The Babylon Bee
have been fact-checked by Snopes repeatedly, and some of these fact-checks have been controversial. For example, in March 2018, The Babylon Bee
published an article quipping that CNN
was using an industrial-sized washing machine to "spin" the news. Snopes fact-checked the article, rating it "false". Facebook
then cited this fact-check in a warning message to The Babylon Bee
, threatening to limit their content distribution and monetization.[better source needed]
Ford tweeted a screenshot of the warning message to his followers, drawing public attention to the matter. Facebook quickly apologized, with the statement that "there's a difference between false news
and satire. This was a mistake and should not have been rated false in our system. It's since been corrected and won't count against the domain in any way."[better source needed]
In July 2019, Erica Thomas
, a Georgia State Representative born in the United States, claimed to be told to "go back to where she came from
" by a man in a grocery store. It was later found that witnesses did not corroborate her story, and the man in question was a Democrat who claimed he was only upset because of the number of groceries she brought to an express checkout lane. The Representative retracted her initial recollection of the incident. The Babylon Bee
published an article referencing the incident titled "Georgia Lawmaker Claims Chick-Fil-A Employee Told Her To Go Back To Her Country, Later Clarifies He Actually Said 'My Pleasure'", which Snopes rated "false". They also this time suggested that the article was deliberately deceptive, rather than genuinely satirical.
Ford responded on Twitter, highlighting what he deemed to be problematic wording in the fact-check.The Babylon Bee
also released a statement, calling the fact-check a "smear" that was "both dishonest and disconcerting."
The statement concluded by saying a law firm had been retained to represent The Babylon Bee
because "Snopes appears to be actively engaged in an effort to discredit and deplatform us." After receiving some backlash and a formal demand letter from The Babylon Bee's
attorney, Snopes made revisions to the wording of the fact check and added an explanatory editor's note.[non-primary source needed]
Chief executive, Seth Dillon, appeared on Fox News
in August 2019 to discuss the feud between the Bee
and Snopes. He said The Babylon Bee
must take the matter seriously "because social networks, which we depend on for our traffic, have relied upon fact-checking sources in the past to determine what's fake news and what isn't. In cases where [Snopes] is calling us fake news and lumping us in with them rather than saying this is satire, that could actually damage us. It could put our business in jeopardy."
Snopes' co-founder David Mikkelson acknowledged to The New York Times
that their fact-check was poorly written, but denied trying to discredit The Babylon Bee.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News
, Mikkelson stated, "The question you should be asking is not: 'Why is Snopes addressing material from a particular site so often?' But, 'What is it about that site that makes its content trigger the fact-check threshold?'"
In August 2019, Snopes announced a new rating for satire sites called "labeled satire".
Articles from The Babylon Bee
that were previously rated "false" have been updated with the new rating.
Snopes explains the label: "This rating indicates that a claim is derived from content described by its creator and/or the wider audience as satire. Not all content described by its creator or audience as 'satire' necessarily constitutes satire, and this rating does not make a distinction between 'real' satire and content that may not be effectively recognized or understood as satire despite being labeled as such." Mann objected to this label in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal
, writing that the label "is meant to suggest that we are somehow making jokes in bad faith".
In 2016, Snopes said that the entirety of its revenue was derived from advertising.
However, in 2016, it also received an award of $75,000 from the James Randi Educational Foundation
, an organization formed to debunk paranormal claims. In 2017, it raised approximately $700,000 from a crowd-sourced GoFundMe effort and received $100,000 from Facebook as a part of a fact-checking partnership.
On February 1, 2019, Snopes announced that it had ended its fact-checking partnership with Facebook. Snopes did not rule out the possibility of working with Facebook in the future but said it needed to "determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication and staff". Snopes added that the loss of revenue from the partnership meant the company would "have less money to invest in our publication—and we will need to adapt to make up for it".
A premium membership option which disables ads is offered.
Snopes publishes a yearly summary detailing their expenses and sources of income, aside from advertising revenue.
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- ^ "Snopes.com: Debunking Myths in Cyberspace". NPR. August 27, 2005. Retrieved August 27, 2005.
- ^ Allison, Melissa (March 4, 2007). "Companies Find Rumors Hard to Kill on Internet". Herald and Review. (image 3).
- ^ Same article: "Corporations Combat Insistent Urban Legends on Internet". The Courier. March 4, 2007. (image 7).
- ^ Henry, Neil (2007). American Carnival: Journalism Under Siege in an Age of New Media. University of California Press. p. 285. The most widely known resource for validating or debunking rumors, myths, hoaxes, and urban legends in popular American culture is the website run by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson at www.snopes.com... .
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- ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Snopes. Retrieved June 9, 2006. What are 'snopes'?
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- ^ Stelter, Brian (April 4, 2010). "Debunkers of Fictions Sift the Net". The New York Times. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
- ^ "Snopes.com Audience Insights". Quantcast.
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- ^ Bruno, Bianca (May 10, 2017). "Fact-Checker Snopes' Owners Accused of Corporate Subterfuge". Courthouse News.
- ^ Farhi, Paul (July 24, 2017). "Is Snopes.com, the original Internet fact-checker, going out of business?". The Washington Post.
- ^ Victor, Daniel (July 24, 2017). "Snopes, in Heated Legal Battle, Asks Readers for Money to Survive". The New York Times.
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- ^ Lacitis, Erik (October 10, 2018). "Lies, lies and more lies. Out of an old Tacoma house, fact-checking site Snopes uncovers them". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Frequently Asked Questions". Snopes. Retrieved June 9, 2006. How do I know the information you've presented is accurate?
- ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Round Rock Gangs". Snopes. July 21, 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2009.
- ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Lost Legends". Snopes. Retrieved June 9, 2006.
- ^ a b "Ask FactCheck: Snopes.com". FactCheck.org. April 10, 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
- ^ "Fact-checking the fact-checkers: Snopes.com gets an 'A'". Network World. April 13, 2009. Archived from the original on July 7, 2014.
- ^ Fader, Carole (September 28, 2012). "Fact Check: So who's checking the fact-finders? We are". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
- ^ Wemple, Erik (March 5, 2018). "Opinion | Facebook working on approach to classifying satirical news pieces". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
- ^ Wemple, Erik (March 2, 2018). "Opinion | Facebook admits mistake in flagging satire about CNN spinning the news with a washing machine". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
- ^ a b c Chokshi, Niraj (August 3, 2019). "Satire or Deceit? Christian Humor Site Feuds With Snopes". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
- ^ Ford, Adam (July 25, 2019). "So @snopes fact-checked @TheBabylonBee again. But this time it's particularly egregious and, well, kind of disturbing". @Adam4d. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
- ^ "The Babylon Bee Newsletter | Important Announcement".
- ^ "Did a Georgia Lawmaker Claim a Chick-fil-A Employee Told Her to Go Back to Her Country?". Snopes. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
- ^ Broderick, Ryan (July 31, 2019). "A Christian Satire Site Says Fact-Checkers Are Helping De-Platform Conservatives". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
- ^ "Let's Make Fact-Checking Even Better". Snopes. August 16, 2019. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
- ^ Muirhead, Macy (August 19, 2019). "Instagram, Snopes Roll Out New Fact-Checking Features to Address Memes, Satire". Karma. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
- ^ "the babylon bee Archives". Snopes.com. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
- ^ a b Mann, Kyle (August 21, 2021). "Opinion | A 'Fact Checker' Declares War On Satire". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
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- ^ a b "Disclosures". Snopes.com. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
- ^ Green, Vinny; Mikkelson, David (February 1, 2019). "A Message to Our Community Regarding the Facebook Fact-Checking Partnership". Snopes.com. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
- ^ "Snopes says nope to Facebook's money and leaves fact-checking program". The Verge. February 1, 2019. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
- ^ Izadi, Elahe (April 15, 2020). "There are so many coronavirus myths that even Snopes can't keep up". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
Last edited on 26 April 2021, at 22:12
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