A few minutes ago, I needed to check out the validity of a story at Snopes.com and along the way, I was shocked to see that the site may be shutting down for good.
For me, Snopes.com is one of the best fact checkers in the world, second only to Wonder Woman’s rope.
At a time when the country has to deal with alternative facts and a leader of the country whose chief export is lying lies, we need every truth teller and fact checker we can find.
Here is a link to their GoFundMe page.
And here is the story behind why Snopes may cease to exist.
Snopes’ GoFundMe says the site has been “cut off from our historic source of advertising income.” Co-founder David Mikkelson founded the site with his then-wife Barbara Mikkelson in 1994, according to the page, incorporating Bardav, Inc. — a name using a combination of their first names — as a company to control the site.
The debt stems from a legal battle between Bardav, now managed exclusively by David Mikkelson, and a web services provider, Proper Media, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. When David and Barbara Mikkelson divorced in 2016, Barbara left Bardev, Inc. and sold her 50 percent equity interest in Snopes to Proper Media.
David Mikkelson says that while he maintains control of the site’s content, he says the site is otherwise held “hostage” by the media company, despite the fact that he’s attempted to “end” the contract with them:
[The] 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.
Since this is a story about the importance of fact checking, it’s only fair that my favorite site for fact checking, gets their story fact checked too.
Reports by The New York Times and The Atlantic provide a very different account than the one offered by the website.
As they tell it, Mikkelson is engaged in a legal battle with Proper Media, a vendor that offers numerous services including advertising.
But Proper Media isn’t just a vendor; people with the company also bought a 50 per cent share in Bardav, Snopes’ parent company, from Mikkelson’s ex-wife Barbara in 2016.
Mikkelson cancelled Proper Media’s contract with Bardav on March 10, [without holding a board meeting, according to Proper’s lawyer] and said he had the authority to do that because he was its only director, according to The Atlantic.
He did this because he reportedly felt that Snopes could obtain services from other vendors for cheaper.
But Proper Media has claimed that Mikkelson didn’t have that authority because Drew Schoentrup, one of Proper’s principals, had become a Bardav director as part of the deal with Mikkelson’s ex-wife, the Times reported.
Hat tip to gharlane for scooping me, about the other side of this story.
As of 7am (Pacific Time) it looks like Snopes.com surpassed their $500,000 goal.
$506,182 of $500k goal
Raised by 18,027 people in 1 day