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Snopes

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Snopes /snps/, formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is one of the first online fact-checking websites.[4] It has been termed a "well-regarded source for sorting out myths and rumors" on the internet.[5][6] It has also been seen as a source for validating and debunking urban legends and similar stories in American popular culture.[7]

Snopes.com
Snopes logo
Type of site
Reference pages
Owner
  • David P. Mikkelson[1]
  • Proper Media[2]
Created byBarbara Mikkelson
David P. Mikkelson[1]
Websitesnopes.com
Alexa rankNegative increase 2,573 (US 752) (December 2018)[3]
CommercialYes
RegistrationRequired only on forums
Launched1994; 24 years ago (1994) (as Urban Legends Reference Pages)
Current statusActive

Contents

HistoryEdit

In 1994,[8] David and Barbara Mikkelson created an urban folklore web site that would become Snopes.com. Snopes was an early online encyclopedia focused on urban legends, that mainly presented search results of user discussions. The site grew to encompass a wide range of subjects and became a resource to which Internet users began submitting pictures and stories of questionable veracity. According to the Mikkelsons, Snopes predated the search engine concept where people could go to check facts by searches.[9] David Mikkelson had originally adopted the username "Snopes" (the name of a family of often unpleasant people in the works of William Faulkner)[10][11] as a username in the Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.urban.[12][13][11][13]

In 2002, the site had become well known enough that a television pilot called Snopes: Urban Legends was completed with American actor Jim Davidson as host. However, it did not air on major networks.[11] Christopher Richmond and Drew Schoentrup later became owners with Mikkelson through a partnership with the founders of a company called Proper Media.[14] By mid-2014, Barbara had not written for the site "in several years"[1] and David hired employees to assist him from Snopes.com's message board. The Mikkelsons divorced around that time, and Barbara no longer has an ownership stake in Snopes.com.[1][15]

On March 9, 2017, David Mikkelson terminated a brokering agreement with Proper Media, the company that provides Snopes with web development, hosting, and advertising support.[16] This prompted Proper Media to stop remitting advertising revenue and to file a lawsuit in May. In late June, Bardav—the company founded by David and Barbara Mikkelson in 2003 to own and operate snopes.com—started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to continue operations.[17] They raised $500,000 in 24 hours.[18] Later, in August, a judge ordered Proper Media to disburse advertising revenues to Bardav while the case was pending.[19]

Main siteEdit

Snopes aims to debunk or confirm widely spread urban legends. The site has been referenced by news media and other sites, including CNN,[20] MSNBC,[21] Fortune, Forbes, and The New York Times.[22] By March 2009, the site had more than 6 million visitors per month.[23] Mikkelson runs the website out of his home in Tacoma, Washington.[24]

Mikkelson has stressed the reference portion of the name Urban Legends Reference Pages, indicating that their intention is not merely to dismiss or confirm misconceptions and rumors but to provide evidence for such debunkings and confirmation as well.[25] Where appropriate, pages are generally marked "undetermined" or "unverifiable" when there is not enough evidence to either support or disprove a given claim.[26]

Lost legendsEdit

In an attempt to demonstrate the perils of over-reliance on the internet as authority, Snopes assembled a series of fabricated urban folklore tales that it terms "The Repository of Lost Legends".[27] The name was chosen for its acronym, T.R.O.L.L., a reference to the early 1990s definition of the word troll, meaning an Internet prank, of which David Mikkelson was a prominent practitioner.[12]

AccuracyEdit

Jan Harold Brunvand, a folklorist who has written a number of books on urban legends and modern folklore, considered the site so comprehensive in 2004 that he decided not to launch one of his own to similarly discuss the accuracy or various legends and rumors.[13]

In 2012, FactCheck.org reviewed a sample of Snopes' responses to political rumors regarding George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and Barack Obama, and found them to be free from bias in all cases.[28][29] In 2012, The Florida Times-Union reported that About.com's urban legends researcher found a "consistent effort to provide even-handed analyses" and that Snopes' cited sources and numerous reputable analyses of its content confirm its accuracy.[30] Mikkelson has said that the site receives more complaints of liberal bias than conservative bias, but added that the same debunking standards are applied to all political urban legends.[28]

FundingEdit

Critics of the site have asserted that it is funded by businessman and philanthropist George Soros, or linked sites. David P. Mikkelson has denied it. [2] Snopes said in 2016 that its revenue was derived from advertising. In 2016, it also received an award of $75,000 from the James Randi Educational Foundation, an organization formed to debunk paranormal claims. In 2017, it raised approximately $700,000 from a crowd-sourced GoFundMe effort and received $100,000 from Facebook as a part of a fact-checking partnership.[31]

Traffic and usersEdit

As of December 2017, Snopes.com's web traffic rank in the world stood at 3,798 with approximately 72% originating from the U.S. with web traffic declining from previous months.[32] As of April 2017, Snopes.com's Alexa rating was 1,794. Approximately 80% of its visitors originate from within the United States. In 2017, the site attracted 20 million unique visitors in one month.[33][34]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "How the Truth Set Snopes Free". Webby Awards. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Streitfeld, David (December 25, 2016). "For Fact Checking Website Snopes, a Bigger Role Brings More Attacks". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  3. ^ "Snopes.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  4. ^ "Snopes.com: Debunking Myths in Cyberspace]". NPR. August 27, 2005. Retrieved August 27, 2005.
  5. ^ Allison, Melissa (March 4, 2007). "Companies Find Rumors Hard to Kill on Internet". Herald and Review. (image 3).
  6. ^ Same article: "Corporations Combat Insistent Urban Legends on Internet". The Courier. March 4, 2007. (image 7).
  7. ^ Henry, Neil (2007). American Carnival: Journalism Under Siege in an Age of New Media. University of California Press. p. 285. The most widely known resource for validating or debunking rumors, myths, hoaxes, and urban legends in popular American culture is the website run by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson at www.snopes.com...
  8. ^ "Triangulation 343 David Mikkelson, Snopes.com". TWiT.tv. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  9. ^ Brian Stelter (April 4, 2010). "Debunkers of Fictions Sift the Net". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  10. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Snopes. Retrieved June 9, 2006. What are 'snopes'?
  11. ^ a b c Bond, Paul (September 7, 2002). "Web site separates fact from urban legend". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  12. ^ a b Porter, David (2013). "Usenet Communities and the Cultural Politics of Information". Internet Culture. Routledge. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-135-20904-9. Retrieved September 13, 2016. The two most notorious trollers in AFU, Ted Frank and snopes, are also two of the most consistent posters of serious research.
  13. ^ a b c Seipp, Cathy (July 21, 2004). "Where Urban Legends Fall". National Review. Archived from the original on August 12, 2004. Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  14. ^ Bruno, Bianca (May 10, 2017). "Fact-Checker Snopes' Owners Accused of Corporate Subterfuge". Courthouse News.
  15. ^ Madrigal, Alexis C. (July 24, 2017). "Snopes Faces an Ugly Legal Battle". The Atlantic.
  16. ^ Farhi, Paul (July 24, 2017). "Is Snopes.com, the original Internet fact-checker, going out of business?". The Washington Post.
  17. ^ Victor, Daniel (July 24, 2017). "Snopes, in Heated Legal Battle, Asks Readers for Money to Survive". The New York Times.
  18. ^ "Snopes Meets $500K Crowdfunding Goal Amid Legal Battle". Bloomberg. Associated Press. July 25, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  19. ^ Dean, Michelle (September 20, 2017). "Snopes and the Search for Facts in a Post-Fact World". Wired. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  20. ^ Nissen, Beth (October 3, 2001). "Hear the rumor? Nostradamus and other tall tales". CNN. Retrieved June 7, 2009.
  21. ^ "Urban Legends Banned-April Fools'!". MSNBC. April 1, 2007. Retrieved June 7, 2009.
  22. ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Who Is Barack Obama?". Snopes. August 24, 2008. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
  23. ^ Hochman, David (March 2009). "Rumor Detectives: True Story or Online Hoax?". Reader's Digest. Archived from the original on March 18, 2009. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  24. ^ Lacitis, Erik (October 10, 2018). "Lies, lies and more lies. Out of an old Tacoma house, fact-checking site Snopes uncovers them". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  25. ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Frequently Asked Questions". Snopes. Retrieved June 9, 2006. How do I know the information you've presented is accurate?
  26. ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Round Rock Gangs". Snopes. July 21, 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2009.
  27. ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Lost Legends". Snopes. Retrieved June 9, 2006.
  28. ^ a b "Ask FactCheck: Snopes.com". FactCheck.org. April 10, 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
  29. ^ "Fact-checking the fact-checkers: Snopes.com gets an 'A'". Network World. April 13, 2009.
  30. ^ Fader, Carole (September 28, 2012). "Fact Check: So who's checking the fact-finders? We are". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  31. ^ "Disclosures". Snopes.com. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  32. ^ "snopes.com Traffic Statistics". SimilarWeb. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  33. ^ Stelter, Brian (April 4, 2010). "Debunkers of Fictions Sift the Net". The New York Times. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  34. ^ "Snopes.com Audience Insights". Quantcast.

External linksEdit