Self-described “fact-checking” site Snopes.com is on the verge of collapse, and may be near shutting down, according to an appeal for donations issued by the site’s owners.
After wide criticism of its left-wing bias, Snopes finds itself in financial trouble. There have been accusations of financial mismanagement by co-founder David Mikkelson, who reportedly embezzled money from the company and spent it on prostitutes. He divorced his wife and married a former porn star who now works as a fact-checker at Snopes.
Now, Snopes has taken to GoFundMe to ask for donations in order to stay open. They claim to be unable to gain access to advertising revenue over a legal battle with their hosting provider.
Here is the letter they posted on their crowdfunding appeal:
SNOPES.COM COMMUNITY: WE NEED YOUR HELP
Snopes.com in Danger of Shuttering
Snopes.com, which began as a small one-person effort in 1994 and has since become one of the Internet’s oldest and most popular fact-checking sites, is in danger of closing its doors. So, for the first time in our history, we are turning to you, our readership, for help.
Since our inception, we have always been a self-sustaining site that provides a free service to the online world: we’ve had no sponsors, no outside investors or funding, and no source of revenue other than that provided by online advertising. Unfortunately, we have been cut off from our historic source of advertising income.
We had previously contracted with an outside vendor to provide certain services for Snopes.com. That 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.
Our legal team is fighting hard for us, but, having been cut off from all revenue, we are facing the prospect of having no financial means to continue operating the site and paying our staff (not to mention covering our legal fees) in the meanwhile.
As misinformation has increasingly threatened democracies around the world (including our own), Snopes.com has stood in the forefront of fighting for truth and dispelling misinformation online. It is vital that these efforts continue, so we are asking the Snopes.com community to donate what they can. (Our suggested donation is $10, but if you can give more please consider doing so — every little bit helps.)
We need our community now more than ever, as it is only through your support that Snopes.com can remain the community and resource we all know and love.