Frequently Asked Questions
All your questions about Snopes, answered
We have long observed the principle that we fact-check whatever items the greatest number of readers are asking about or searching for at any given time, without any partisan considerations. We don’t choose (or exclude) items for coverage based on whether they deal with Republican/Democratic, conservative/liberal, or religious/secular issues. We also don’t impose our own judgments about whether a given item’s perceived importance, controversiality, obviousness, or superficiality (or lack thereof) merit our addressing it. (We are, of course, limited in how much we can cover by our available resources and staffing.) The inputs we use to determine reader interest include the tabulation of terms entered into our search engine, reader email submissions, comments and items posted to our Twitter and Facebook accounts, external social media posts, as well as what’s trending on Google and other social media sites.
The short answer is, "Because readers ask about it." But of course we have given the topic more consideration than that answer would indicate. Read this note from our founder to learn more.
In general, when a political piece is primarily an editorial or other expression of opinion, we tag it as such and attempt to verify only whether the attribution is correct (since opinions are not falsifiable, the attribution is the sole aspect of the piece that may be objectively determined as being true or false). When a political piece purports to offer facts, we place it in a relevant category and analyze the factual claims made within for veracity.
Our policy is to promptly correct errors of fact and to clarify any potentially confusing or ambiguous statements in our articles and fact checks. Readers can submit potential corrections through our Contact Form. Whenever we change the rating of a fact check (for any reason), correct or modify a substantive supporting fact (even if it does not affect the item’s overall rating), or add substantial new information to an existing article, those changes are noted and explained in an Update box at the foot of the article. Corrections of typographical errors, misspellings, or other minor revisions not deemed substantive by our editors are not noted. Please keep in mind that text appearing inside a box with a colored background is either an example of collected folklore or a quotation from another source, not our own writing. We reproduce these items exactly as we find them and do not edit them to correct orthographical errors.
Yes! We always welcome reader tips and queries. Send us links to articles, social media posts, or images using our contact form. If you have screenshots or other relevant attachments, use the “Add File” button on the contact form. Include as much information as possible, including when and where you found the item you hope to see fact-checked. Due to the volume of correspondence we receive every day, we regret that we may not be able to respond to your request personally. Curious if we have already fact-checked the claim in question? Type in one or two keywords into our site search. Searches that are too lengthy or specific tend to produce fewer results. To keep up with the latest fact-checking on Snopes.com, subscribe to our newsletter.
Snopes cannot fact-check every dubious claim ever published, so we try to tackle what seems most prominent each day. In other words, we write about whatever the greatest number of readers are asking about or fact-checking at any given time, without any partisan considerations. The items we address include (but are not limited to):
- text circulated online
- social media posts
- images or memes
- photographs and videos
- printed material
- articles from other sites and publications
Since the material we fact-check can range from everything to analyzing whether an image has been digitally manipulated to explicating the text of a Congressional bill, we can’t describe any single method that applies to all our fact-checking efforts. In general, each entry is assigned to one of the members of our editorial staff who undertakes the preliminary research and writes the first draft of the fact check. Our research generally begins with (whenever possible) attempting to contact the source of the claim for elaboration and supporting information. We also attempt to contact individuals and organizations who would be knowledgeable about, or have relevant expertise in, the subject at hand, as well as searching out printed information (news articles, scientific and medical journal articles, books, interview transcripts, statistical sources) with bearing on the topic. We attempt to use non-partisan information and data sources (e.g., peer-reviewed journals, government agency statistics) as much as possible, and to alert readers that information and data from sources such as political advocacy organizations and partisan think tanks should be regarded with skepticism. Depending upon the nature and complexity of the topic, other members of the editorial staff may contribute additional research (or their own personal expertise) and editing. The final product will pass through the hands of at least one editor. Any piece that is not deemed up to our standards by one or more editors is subject to further revision and review before being released for publication.
Snopes has been fact-checking folklore, urban legends, hoaxes, memes, and rumors on the internet for more than 25 years. It began as something of a hobby and has grown considerably since. Now our team of fact-checkers, developers, and support staff is probably greater than you can fit in a large passenger van, although we haven’t scientifically tested that yet.
An “urban legend” is not the same thing as a “fictional tale” or an “apocryphal anecdote,” although many people mistakenly use the term in that sense (e.g., “That’s not true; it’s just an urban legend!”). A tale is considered to be an urban legend if it circulates widely, is told and retold with differing details (or exists in multiple versions), and is said to be true. Whether or not the events described in the tale ever actually occurred is irrelevant to its classification as an urban legend. For example, the tale about a student who mistakes a math problem thought to be unsolvable for a homework assignment and solves it is an urban legend, even though something very similar did once happen in real life. The tale is still an urban legend, however, because over the years many of its details (i.e., when it happened, where it happened, the identity of the student, the reaction of the student’s instructor) have changed as it has spread.
Thank you for thinking of us. Please send a complete summary of the event details using our Contact Form.
In addition to fact-checking, Snopes publishes original news stories, in-depth investigations, and other material we believe will help readers understand and contextualize information they encounter. Fact checks, which use our rating system, are clearly labeled. To stay up-to-date on all Snopes content, subscribe to our newsletter.
Distilling the veracity of a topic or event into a one-word assessment can be challenging. Sometimes labeling an article “true” or “false” is not appropriate to the question at hand, or it doesn’t tell the whole story. Our rating system has a variety of labels, so we can be accurate, clear and fair. It’s important to take note of the claim statement on each article, as the specific wording of the claim is what the rating evaluates.
Thank you for your interest. If we are recruiting for any positions, we will make the information available on our Careers page.
Snopes has been answering questions on the internet for more than two decades (since before Google existed, even) and millions of readers are still consulting us every week. We like to think our portfolio of work speaks for itself. But we wouldn’t be particularly reliable fact-checkers if we didn’t corroborate that. In a profile on BBC News, Snopes is described as “the go-to bible for many fact-checkers.” “I haven’t done a paper in the past 10 years that I haven’t also checked to see what Snopes had to say about it first,” Patricia Turner, professor of folklore at UCLA, told the Los Angeles Times. “Anything that raises hairs on the back of my neck, I go to Snopes.” “Do the Snopes.com articles reveal a political bias?” wrote FactCheck.org. “We reviewed a sampling of their political offerings, including some on rumors about George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, and we found them to be utterly poker-faced.” And in 2019 Popular Mechanics included Snopes on its list of “The 50 Most Important Websites of All Time.” (Find more media coverage here.) Of course, we don’t expect anyone to accept us as the ultimate authority on any topic. No single source, no matter how reliable, is infallible. Anyone can make mistakes. Or get duped. Or have a bad day at the fact-checking bureau. However, unlike so many anonymous individuals who create and spread unsigned, unsourced messages across the internet, we show our work on Snopes.com. Research materials used in the preparation of any fact check are listed so that readers who wish to verify the validity of our information may check those sources for themselves. Just click the “Sources” button at the bottom of an article. Feeling skeptical? That’s probably a good sign. Keep looking for more information. We will, too. See something we missed? Contact us.
Are we Republicans or Democrats? Conservatives or liberals? Administration supporters or a secretly-funded tool of the opposition? According to our readers, we’re all of the above. Somehow we performed the remarkable feat of being decidedly biased in every possible direction.
Snopes is the name of a family of characters who appear throughout the works of American writer William Faulkner. When David Mikkelson, creator of Snopes.com, began publishing on the internet in the late 1980s, he worried even back in those relatively uncrowded days that no one would remember yet another David. He was inspired to adopt a nom-de-Net, selecting one that honored those fictional Faulknerian characters, and began signing his newsgroups posts as “snopes.” Over the years snopes established a reputation for his ability to thoroughly fact-check and debunk false claims. When it came time to name our domain, snopes.com seemed the obvious choice. Wondering about the pronunciation? It rhymes with “soaps.”
Corrections are always welcome; but keep in mind that text appearing inside a bordered box with a colored background is either an example of collected folklore or a quotation from another source, not our own writing. Because these items are pieces of folklore, we reproduce them exactly as we find them and do not edit them to correct orthographical errors. Use our contact form to alert us to any mistakes or typos you think Snopes, and not a quoted source, has perpetrated.
Comment sections can be where civil people go to share thoughtful opinions in a respectful manner. They can also be, and often are, places where anonymous trolls look to give you a digital wedgie and insult your mother for a good time. Instead of investing in hosting and moderating comments, we prefer to focus our efforts on what we do best: fact-checking. That said, we enjoy hearing from our readers. You are welcome to comment on our stories on social media or in our Facebook group, where you can also engage directly with other Snopes readers. To send us questions, corrections, or concerns, please use our contact form.
Snopes does not have an API available to the public. If your organization is interested in gaining access to our fact check data, please contact us to discuss potential commercial opportunities. If you are a researcher or academic institution who would like access to our data, contact us at the same address. We may be able to work with you to reduce barriers to access.
No. Using our material without our permission is copyright infringement, even if your site is noncommercial, and even if you give us credit. Our writers and editors work hard to keep our information accurate and current, and when other people reprint our material we no longer have any ability to update it when new information becomes available. Reprinting our material without permission also deprives us of the advertising revenues we need to continue operating this site as a free resource. You are welcome to link to any of our articles from your site, but you may not reproduce the content of our pages on your own site, nor may you distribute the text of our articles via email forwards or mailing lists, or by posting them to message boards or blogs. (All of these actions constitute copyright infringement.)
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Of course! That is, unless your site is throwing shade our way. Then you must link to us at least 17 times per page.
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