How The Debunking Website Snopes Almost Got Shut Down

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation., one of the first and most reliable fact-checking websites, staved off bankruptcy by raising half a million dollars in two days. The website’s founder, David Mikkelson, created a GoFundMe page to help pay for legal costs after a dispute with his co-owner threatened to shut the site down.

image debunks or verifies urban legends, rumors, and other claims. The site has addressed topics including Bigfoot being found dead at Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico (false) and how a vending machine company microchipped its employees (true). The site’s wildly successful GoFundMe campaign shows how internet users rely on the fact checkers at Snopes to determine what’s real and what isn’t.

A contentious divorce paved the way for the costly dispute.

After Mikkelson and his wife Barbara divorced in 2016, Barbara sold her half of to a company called Proper Media. Now, Proper Media and Mikkelson are fighting for control of the site and its advertising revenue.

Washington Post

The dispute led to a freeze on advertising and the money it generates. That’s bad news for the site, which relies on that money to stay in business. Snopes does not write sponsored content or have any other outside funding.

Fortunately, the internet had a chance to thank Snopes and Mikkelson for years of free content. Over 22,000 people donated to the campaign, raising $618,130 in just two days.


These donations were a concrete way to say thanks for addressing claims about images hidden in Disney films, rumors about politicians, and UFOs. For example, proved that Merriam-Webster defines “trumpery” as “worthless nonsense,” while sharing the claim that women retain DNA from every man they’ve slept with is false.

David Mikkelson founded the site in 1994 to address commonly circulated conspiracy theories and other claims.

The internet offered an easy way to post altered photos and spread questionable claims. Snopes addressed the truthfulness of these items. Early on, they covered the infamous Nigerian prince email scams. Plus, Snopes recently confirmed that someone at Disney snuck a photo of a topless woman into two frames of The Rescuers.


Snopes also tackled claims that predate the internet. For instance, one of the most well-known facts about George Washington is that he had wooden dentures—except that he didn’t. A dentist made Washington’s dentures from human teeth, cow teeth, and elephant ivory strung together on a lead base. Although that is gross and creepy, it is a highly interesting tidbit of information.

In recent years, Snopes reinvented itself as a political fact-checking site.

While the site still addresses urban legends and conspiracy theories, they’ve spent an increasing amount of time tackling claims throughout the election season. When the fake news epidemic was in full swing, Snopes did their best to determine what was true and what was not.

The White House

For instance, Donald Trump did not say that Republicans were the “dumbest group of voters,” nor did John McCain admit he was a war criminal. Likewise, Hillary Clinton did not say that Democratic voters are “just plain stupid,” and John Kerry did not mention that “refrigerators and air conditioners are as dangerous as ISIS.”

If politics is too heavy for you, you can always check out claims like whether farmers feed Skittles to cattle (true) and if breatharians can survive off of only air (they cannot). Snopes has a huge variety of content, but most importantly, they have an unwavering dedication to the truth. Luckily, Snopes patrons had a chance to show their appreciation, and the site will continue sorting fact from fiction.

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