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Snopes.com asks for bailout amid dispute over who runs the site and collects ad dollars

Google and Facebook both have fact-check site on their fake-news-fighting teams

By Simon Sharwood, 25 Jul 2017

Fact-checking web site Snopes.com says it is “in danger of shuttering” due to a commercial dispute that has starved it of revenue.

A new savesnopes site says Snopes is in dispute with a company that “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,” Snopes says, adding that it may soon have insufficient cash to pay staff or legal fees. It's therefore crowdfunding itself, asking users to send $10 to keep it afloat.

The dispute is detailed in a complaint [PDF] detailing a dispute between Bardav, Inc. and Proper Media LLC.

Proper Media says it has an agreement to manages Snopes, but that the site's CEO David Mikkelson has tried to stop it from performing its duties. Proper also says it owns half of Badav, because Mikkelson's former wife and co-founder Barbara Mikkelson sold Proper her half-share in the company.

The divorce wasn't pretty and neither is this dispute: there's a he-said-she-said going on and the matter looks bound for court.

The Register is not in a position to judge the facts of the case. What we do know, however, is that both Google and Facebook named Snopes on the lists of fact-checkers they hoped would help them to detect fake news and prevent it reaching their users' impressionable eyeballs.

Both companies are also awash with cash, suggesting a quick and perhaps easier solution to Snopes' woes than its current “fling us a tenner for the good of the internet” strategy. ®

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