Fact-checking on the internet is essential to making sure the stories you’re sharing are accurate and true. There are hosts of reputable information sources but, unfortunately, there are even more questionable outlets that report fake news. One of the most popular sites that help people sift through the reports is snopes.com. It’s been hailed as the go-to site for debunking hoaxes, myths and other online falsehoods. But Snopes’ own reputation for being honest has also grown questionable as its popularity rises. Here are a few reasons why Snopes isn’t your best source for credible and trustworthy information.
Information on the internet does not randomly appear. It is written and posted by various journalists. One of the current Snopes writers actually has a record of working with an agency that produces false news and circulates hoaxes. These writers are also presenting the information without any credible sources themselves. There have also been blatant political leanings expressed by the Snopes writers that indicate they are pushing a personal agenda rather than objective reporting.
Biased Political Content
Most people used Snopes to dispel pop-culture rumors like flushing baby alligators leads to large alligators in the sewers. These are generally harmless and can be related to by many because there is no larger or political agenda. However, following the recent 2016 political season, Snopes has given up on political neutrality. Choosing to speak for a political party gives the site less credibility as a non-biased source of information. For example, one writer who refers to herself as a liberal often writes negatively about the GOP party and their stance on welfare conditions. While that might be okay for her personal blog, Snopes is meant to address everyone and offer truths.
What started as a simple way to verify internet stories has ballooned into a profitable and often acknowledged site for fact-checking. But the original founders, a married couple, are not only going through a divorce but have also sold half of the Snopes brand to an ad agency. Initially, the goal might have truly been fact-checking but is now about making money. The money comes from 3rd-party advertisements found on the site and with each new page clicked, there is revenue. This means, regardless of truth, Snopes will continue to seek and run articles to maintain a constant high level of traffic in order to collect money from ads.
The people tasked by Snopes to comb through the internet pieces and separate fact from fiction may not be entirely qualified to do so. The hiring process is also surprisingly informal and their recruiters do not check if they have potential conflicts of interest. These people are not trained as editors nor do they have the journalistic background that would make them aware of how to trace credible sources, be objective or even interview the authors of the articles they’re investigating. These fact-checkers are also pulled from different sources themselves so some might have other agendas than exposing the truth.