On July 24, Snopes.com posted a public plea for financial help from its readers.
Snopes set up the crowdfunding page and the “Save Snopes” campaign on in an attempt to keep the website and company afloat until its ongoing legal storm surrounding the company's finances passes.
Snopes also set up a FAQ page detailing the particulars of its position and how the money will be spent.
The current controversy leading to near-crisis has risen from within the company itself.
On Aug. 4, the two sides will meet in court. The outcome may ultimately influence who has control over Snopes and whether or not the company will continue on as before.
Here's what you need to know about the company and its ongoing legal dispute.
- The idea for the site began in 1994, and Snopes was founded by Barbara and David Mikkelson. With their passion for research, the couple began working on urban legends, according to the company's website.
- According to the website, Snopes became “the oldest and largest fact-checking site on the internet,” garnering trust from folklorists, journalists and everyday people.
- In this interview with NPR, David Mikkelson said the controversy around former President Obama in 2008, regarding his birthplace and his birth certificate, began to put Snopes in the political spotlight.
- According to this article in The Atlantic, founders Barbara and Dave Mikkelson divorced in 2015, each owning 50 percent of Snopes. The parent company, called Bardav, founded in 2003 by the couple, began working with a company called Proper Media, headed by five men.
- In 2016, Barbara Mikkelson sold her part of the company to the five men of Proper Media, and now David Mikkelson and Proper Media are locked in a power struggle, according to The Atlantic.
- David Mikkelson claims that Proper Media, which is in charge of the advertising on the site, has been withholding income, while Proper Media says that David Mikkelson has been spending wastefully and should be removed from his position, reports the New York Times. Both sides have filed legal claims against the other, leading to the ongoing dispute.
- Snopes is one of the websites trusted by Facebook to identify and debunk fake news.
- The site has experienced massive success over the years. The Washington Post reported that the website had 7.4 million visitors in the month of June, according to ComScore data.
- While misleading news and stories have been around for a long time, the term “fake news” catapulted to the forefront in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook announced in December 2016 that Facebook was going to use sites like Snopes.com to investigate fake news spread on its site.
- Snopes states that its website “is (and always has been) a completely independent, self-sufficient entity wholly owned by its operators and funded through advertising revenues.”
- Throughout multiple presidential elections, Snopes fact-checked stories on both sides of the political spectrum, and has attracted criticism from individuals of varying political affiliations by doing so.