2020 in Fact Checks: The Snopes Year in Review

From COVID-19 rumors to protest hoaxes, from election disinformation to the truly bizarre, it's been quite a year for fact checkers.

Published Dec 29, 2020

Image Via Various

Well, whatever expectations we may have had for 2020, we certainly did not expect all of that.

This time last year, when we looked back at 2019, we told you about how what was once email forwards was now everywhere. In 2020, when much of the world moved online, that problem overwhelmed society. The result was an infodemic that broke our traffic records — and three big topics that dominated the rumors that came our way this year.

In March, the spread of COVID-19 in the United States was followed by the spread of rumors and misinformation. For instance, people wanted to know if COVID-19 was a bioweapon (it’s not), whether videos of trucks full of coffins in Italy were real (they were), whether Nostradamus or Dean Koontz predicted it (neither did).

This summer, the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests that followed had our readers asking all sorts of questions. Numerous attempts to smear the victims of police-involved violence, like Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the victims of accused teen shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, dominated our inbox.

But throughout the year, the 2020 presidential election — and the muddled aftermath — was a huge source of disinformation. The unprecedented scale of it led Snopes to innovate new ways to distribute the truth. We pioneered new formats, like rumor alerts and quick fact checks, and did live fact checking for the presidential debates, Election Day, and the days that followed.

A lot more happened than those Big Three. Here's what else happened at Snopes during this crazy, unexpected 2020.

Craziest Critter

Animals are always a source of questionable claims — and this year was no exception.

Least Safe for Work

Not every claim we check should be opened during work hours.

Thanks To Your Support....

Snopes was able to hire 9 new staffers and produce 46% more fact checks this year.

Stretch Armstrong

Some of the claims we checked this year were pretty big stretches.

Bathroom Readers

Believe it or not, claims involving bodily functions are some of the most popular at Snopes.

Thanks To Your Support....

We launched the Snopes Account system, which provides ad-free browsing and will lay the foundation for more community-driven features in the months (and years) to come.

Deepest Rabbit Hole

Sometimes, stories we assume have a simple answer are much more complex — and require much more reporting — than we think.

Most Obviously Shopped

Despite how obvious the Photoshop job is on a fake image, it will still fool some segment of the population.

Thanks To Your Support....

We launched a simplified, quicker website redesign in preparation for upgrades and new functionalities

Can’t Believe We Had to Check This

A helpful reminder that the “obvious” is not universal.

Best Subheading

What can we say? We love a good sentence.

Easy Reader

The art of an easy-to-understand fact check is underappreciated.

Most Unexpectedly True

Wait, what? We’ve seen it all, but sometimes, even we’re surprised when a rumor turns out to be true.

Best Readers

We think we know who wins this...

  • You! Seriously. We could not have done any of this without the help of our amazing, engaged readers.

Thank you so much for helping our small-but-growing team investigate (and survive) this truly landmark year. And as 2020 draws to a close and 2021 looms on the horizon, please continue to help us — submit your misinformation leads and questions to Snopes, subscribe to our newsletters, and support us financially by becoming a member or making a direct contribution.

Whatever comes in 2021, we'll be debunking for you.