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Snopes In The Business Of Myth Busting

Aug 3, 2018

We've all gotten an email or seen something online that seems a bit fishy.

Some people take the bait, but some check it out and often rely on a well-known online mythbuster called Snopes.com.

Not everyone is a fan of Snopes. While it’s one of the most popular fact-checking sites in the world, it’s also become the target of an online satire organization.

Daniel Funke of the International Fact Checking Network at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies recently wrote about the feud. He said “No Fake News Online” publisher Christopher Blair and Snopes have been at it for a year and a half.

It escalated when Snopes became authorized to fact check on Facebook and had the ability to tag Blair’s stories as fake. That reduced the reach of Blair’s stories, and his ability to monetize the content.

“He says his content is clearly satire and Snopes keeps debunking it, even though they know it’s satirical,” Funke said.

The spat between Snopes and Blair’s satire site is intriguing, but Funke said, more importantly, it serves as a reminder to the public that they should always be cautious about what they see online.

“Watch out for anything that you see that could be potentially satirical or false. Always check the footer of the website, the bio of the social media page to make sure you’re getting the context of what you’re reading,” he said.

While most fact-checking sites now focus on the veracity of the claims of public officials or political news, Snopes has more organic roots.

Funke said Snopes started in 1994 by a couple that wanted to check out hoaxes and urban legends being made on online message boards. It’s evolved over time to a for-profit company and one of the most well-known fact-checking organizations in the world.

It also is now a participating member of the International Fact Checking Network which Poynter runs.

Funke said Snopes has retained its original flavor, and continues to check out an array of viral hoaxes showing up on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

“It could be the most salacious rumor in the world or something that Donald Trump said...they’ve got celebrities in there, they have a little human intrigue, there’s everything in Snopes,” he said.