Hoaxes and Misinformation About Snopes.com

Myth-busting site Snopes.com itself is frequently the target of hoaxes, "satire," junk news, and other misinformation.

Claim

The CEO of Snopes.com has been arrested, amidst other "scandals" involving the fact-checking site.

Rating

Origin

Snopes.com has been engaged in the business of online fact-checking and myth-busting for over two decades now, and during that timespan we’ve been the subject of many fictional reports — some of them affection spoofs, some of them salacious junk news concocted to drive clicks and web traffic, and some of them straight-out fake news (often couched as “satire”) spread by the targets of our debunkings in attempts to discredit us.

Much of this misinformation is repetitive and doesn’t lend itself to full-length debunkings, so here were offer a round-up and brief explanations of some of more widely circulated false articles about Snopes.com:

Snopes.com CEO Arrested on Charges of Fraud and Corruption

The CEO of Snopes Media Group, David Mikkelson, has never been arrested for any reason. This false item was a piece of “satire” from The People’s Cube junk news site.

Snopes CEO Busted in Pit Bull Fighting Ring

Again, the CEO of Snopes Media Group, David Mikkelson, has never been arrested for any reason. This false item was propagated by News4KTLA, a fake news site that mimics the appearance of a local television news outlet.

Snopes Given Access to Private Facebook Profile Data

The junk news site Your News Wire (now NewsPunch) falsely reported on Snopes.com staff being “given the ability to view, edit, or remove user posts and ban users from using [Facebook] as they see fit.”

This report was completely untrue. Snopes.com participates in a fact-checking partnership with Facebook, but that partnership has never provided access or means for any of our staff to access Facebook users’ personal profile information, to edit or remove user posts, or to ban users from Facebook.

Snopes Finally Exposed as CIA Operation

This was another false report from the junk news site Your News Wire (now NewsPunch), asserting that “a recent investigation [found] the so-called fact-checking organization is actually a front for the CIA” and that Snopes.com was “formed by the Central Intelligence Agency in order to spread disinformation on the internet, and stifle subversive outlets.”

Snopes.com was founded by David Mikkelson as a personal project, and the site does not have (and has never had) any connection with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). We do not work or communicate with the CIA (other than to send them occasional inquiries regarding items of fact-checking interest), nor do we have any current or former employees of the CIA on our staff.

Facebook Replacing Snopes with AI for Fact-Checking Over ‘Credibility Concerns’

The junk news site Neon Nettle falsely reported that Facebook had purchased an AI firm to replace Snopes.com as one of Facebook’s fact-checking partners due to the social media network’s alleged concerns about “shady ‘fact-checking’ services.”

Facebook’s July 2018 acquisition of Bloomsbury AI brought the social media giant natural language processing technology that is applicable to a number of different functions, and the purchase was not aimed at replacing any particular fact-checking organization.

In fact, Facebook has never expressed any concerns about the reliability or credibility of Snopes.com’s fact-checking work and has repeatedly encouraged our continued participation in their fact-checking partnership.

Snopes Paid to Push ‘Propaganda’ by Facebook, Former Editor Reveals

The junk news site Neon Nettle, who have been such prolific purveyors of fake news that they were booted off Facebook, published an article — based on second-hand, uninformed opinion and misinformation — falsely reporting that Snopes.com had been “paid to push propaganda” by Facebook.

Contrary to the assertions of that article, we have never been asked by Facebook to undertake or publish fact checks in the service of Facebook’s advertisers, public relations efforts, or “propaganda.” Facebook does not direct what topics we tackle or influence the ratings we assign to them, nor do we derive any benefit from rating items “false” rather than “true.”

We perform the very same fact-checking efforts we have always undertaken and simply share the results with Facebook, who use that data to help limit the reach of misinformation on their platform. Our partnership with Facebook has never required that we change anything about what we do or how we do it, and other Facebook fact-checking partners have said the same.

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