In compliance with the industry principles — and because we think being transparent with readers is the coolest — what follows is a detailed description of our editorial process.
We may periodically update this page if and when any aspect of our process changes. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Since the material we tackle 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 of our fact-checking.
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 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.
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.
Unlike many other sites in the online fact-checking world, at Snopes.com we do not exclusively focus on politics (although political fact-checking makes up a large portion of our work). We have long observed the principle that we write about 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 questions posted to our Twitter and Facebook accounts, what’s trending on Google and social media sites, and items flagged for review by Facebook users as part of our partnership with Facebook.
The items we address come in forms that include (but are not limited to) text circulated online, social media posts, image macros/memes, videos, printed material, and articles from other sites and publications.
We don’t address, without exception, every single item that comes our way: we may decline to undertake a given topic because it is beyond our scope (e.g., answering the question “Does God exist?”) or represents a subject that is not relevant or appropriate for our site (e.g., speculating about a given celebrity’s sexual orientation).
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.
Any published sources (both paper and digital) that we quote, link to, use as background information for, or otherwise reference in our fact checks are listed in the Sources section at the foot of each fact check article. (This section is now an expandable link: readers can click on the word “Sources” to expand or collapse the source listings.)
In cases where we have contacted individuals or organizations by e-mail or telephone for comment, that information is noted within the text of articles and is not usually listed separately in the Sources section.
Media embedded within the body of our articles for illustrative or informational purposes, such as YouTube videos and social media posts, are also not separately listed in the Sources section.
Our policy is to promptly correct errors of fact and to clarify any potentially confusing or ambiguous statements in our articles. Readers can submit potential corrections through the Contact form; those submissions will be routed to an editor for evaluation and action.
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.