NYT Looks at Snopes’ 2 Years Fact-Checking the Elections

On fact-checking in a world where fact-checkers are fake news targets.

If Snopes used to be the site you visited to prove that ancient alien cell phones weren’t real, the election cast the hoax-busting site into a role as fact-checker of political tall tales, in addition to those of the extraterrestrial and urban legend variety.

Snopes’ investigations into political claims were thorough enough for the site to be named as a partner in helping Facebook weed out fake news on its site.

And with that image as reliable fact-checker of political claims forged during a campaign in which no lie seemed too preposterous to offer for public consumption, it has been at times the target of those who wish to cast Snopes itself as part of some lying liberal cabal. Case in point:

All of Snopes’s revenue — Mr. Mikkelson says he doesn’t know what it is — come from ads. Facebook is not paying for its services. Nor is the billionaire George Soros funding the site, although that is sometimes asserted in anti-Snopes stories.

And also this:

If you believe the internet, the founder of Snopes, David Mikkelson, has a longer rap sheet than Al Capone. He was supposedly arrested for committing fraud and corruption and running a pit bull ring.

None of that has stopped Snopes from growing its audience, which, according to the New York Times, reached a post-election high of 2.5 million uniques. Nor has it stopped managing editor Brooke Binkowski from feeling like Snopes is making an impact, even at the expense of appearing “ideological or Pollyannaish,” even as the pile of stories that need debunking grows.