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Hoax Alert

Snopes.com Locked Out Of Advertising Revenue And Requesting Donations

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Mon, 24 Jul 2017 14:31:22 Z)

Legendary fact checking website Snopes.com just posted an appeal to their site asking for donations via a GoFundMe page. Apparently the company or person they contracted with to run their website is holding it hostage and is refusing to pass on the advertising revenue. Right now it looks like there are no ads running on the site at all.


The full text of the appeal (which is copied on www.savesnopes.com, presumably in case the snopes.com site goes down) reads:

Dear Readers,

Snopes.com, which began as a small one-person effort in 1994 and has since become one of the Internet's oldest and most popular fact-checking sites, is in danger of closing its doors. So, for the first time in our history, we are turning to you, our readership, for help.

Since our inception, we have always been a self-sustaining site that provides a free service to the online world: we've had no sponsors, no outside investors or funding, and no source of revenue other than that provided by online advertising. Unfortunately, we have been cut off from our historic source of advertising income.

We had previously contracted with an outside vendor to provide certain services for Snopes.com. That contractual relationship ended earlier this year, but the vendor will not acknowledge the change in contractual status and continues to essentially hold the Snopes.com web site hostage. Although we maintain editorial control (for now), the vendor will not relinquish the site's hosting to our control, so we cannot modify the site, develop it, or -- most crucially -- place advertising on it. The vendor continues to insert their own ads and has been withholding the advertising revenue from us.

Our legal team is fighting hard for us, but, having been cut off from all revenue, we are facing the prospect of having no financial means to continue operating the site and paying our staff (not to mention covering our legal fees) in the meanwhile.

As misinformation has increasingly threatened democracies around the world (including our own), Snopes.com has stood in the forefront of fighting for truth and dispelling misinformation online. It is vital that these efforts continue, so we are asking the Snopes.com community to donate what they can. (Our suggested donation is $10, but if you can give more please consider doing so -- every little bit helps.)

We need our community now more than ever, as it is only through your support that Snopes.com can remain the community and resource we all know and love.

Sincerely yours,

Team Snopes.

At the time of writing the article on Snopes.com did not contain a link to the GoFundMe page but we have gotten confirmation the link and savesnopes.com site are real in a mailing list message written by Snopes founder David Mikkelson.

It looks like the snopes.com domain name is registered via an anonymous registration service and so is savesnopes.com but using a different service provider. So far the appeal hasn't gone viral yet as you can see in the Trendolizer graph at the end of this article but let's help Snopes along a bit here...

About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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