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Fake News: Snopes NOT Finally Exposed As CIA Operation

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Mon, 30 Apr 2018 20:04:45 Z)

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Was fact checking website Snopes.com recently 'exposed' as a CIA operation? No, that's nonsense peddled by an unreliable website that likes to copy paste together bits and pieces of articles from other websites and then adds unsupported facts in the headline and first paragraphs to make it more juicy in order to get clicks, traffic and ad revenue.

The CIA hoax originated from an article published on April 29, 2018 by YourNewsWire titled "Snopes Finally Exposed As CIA Operation" (archived here) which opened:

Using Snopes as a trusted authority is dangerous. According to a recent investigation, the so-called fact-checking organization is actually a front for the CIA.

According to investigative journalist Wayne Madsen, Snopes was formed by the Central Intelligence Agency in order to spread disinformation on the internet, and stifle subversive outlets.

Fellowshipoftheminds.com reports: From Madsen's for-subscribers-only report of Oct. 7, 2016, 'Snopes.com: the latest CIA addition to Internet disinformation':

OK, if a 2016 article from a website run by one guy counts as "a recent investigation" there might be something there. Unfortunately it is behind a paywal. Lucky for us a different site seems to have a copy of the article which YourNewsWire quotes extensively.

For example:

Snopes's most recent dissembling of the truth was to discount reports from Greece that Turkey has been shipping weapons disguised as furniture shipments to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and affiliated terrorist groups in North Africa and Europe.

Snopes claims that because the story of a Greek Coast Guard interception of a weapons shipment south of the island of Crete dates from 2015, there is no validity to the Turkish connection to weapons shipments to ISIL terrorists.

What Snopes was debunking was the claim the weapons were headed for refugee camps in Europe:

FACT CHECK: Greece Seizes Weapons Headed for Refugee Camps?

Photographs show a cache of weapons uncovered by the Coast Guard in Greece, disguised as furniture and headed for European refugee camps. False In September 2015, social media users in Europe and the United States debated the merits of accepting an influx of refugees from war-torn regions such as Syria.

If anything, Snopes was actually confirming the weapons are being sent from Turkey to Libya in 2015, where ISIL was active since at least 2014:

Versions of this rumor were accompanied by still frames taken from the mislabeled video embedded above, which did not depict material being shipped to refugees in Greece (or elsewhere in Europe), but rather embargoed arms being smuggled from Turkey to Libya that were interdicted by the Greek coast guard

Somehow according to the article quoted by YourNewsWire, Snopes confirming weapons being smuggled from Turkey to Libya instead of to refugee camps in Europe means they are 'throwing cold water' on these links:

The CIA had to commission its favorite Internet disinformation site to throw cold water on the Turkish weapons links to ISIL because it threatens to expose the CIA's massive weapons smuggling operations to ISIL terrorists

They could just as easily have refused to debunk the refugee story instead of, you know, confirming the actual smuggling to Libya. But somehow this "proves" they are a CIA front? Yeah, we don't know how that would work either.

YourNewsWire has published several hoaxes and fake news articles in the past so anything they write or publish should be taken with a large grain of salt. Their Facebook page "The People's Voice" recently lost its verification checkmark according to a report from MMFA.

The Terms of Use of the site also make it clear they don't really stand behind the accuracy of any of their reporting:

THE PEOPLE'S VOICE, INC. AND/OR ITS SUPPLIERS MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS ABOUT THE SUITABILITY, RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, TIMELINESS, AND ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS CONTAINED ON THE SITE FOR ANY PURPOSE.

The site was profiled in the Hollywood reporter where it was described as:

Your News Wire, a 3-year-old website of murky facts and slippery spin, is published by Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway -- a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016 -- out of an apartment in L.A.'s historic El Royale.

RationalWiki described it as:

YourNewsWire (styled as YourNewsWire.com[1]) is an Los Angeles-based clickbait fake news website known for disseminating conspiracy theories and misleading information, contrary to its claimed motto ("News. Truth. Unfiltered").[1]

A while ago we also reported that YourNewsWire had rebranded itself as NewsPunch by changing its domain name in an apparent effort to evade filtering/blocking. It appears the site has changed back to it's old name in the mean time but you can still see the NewsPunch name in the contact email address in the footer.

We wrote about yournewswire.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

Updates:

: We contacted David Mikkelson, founder of Snopes, and he stated "I can confirm that we are not a CIA operation". He also pointed out that our image caption "Unproven!" was open to misinterpretation. We have updated it to "False!" to make it clear that the statement "Snopes Finally Exposed As CIA Operation" is not true, no such exposure backed up by evidence took place.

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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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