I used to love Snopes. As a skeptic, it was always the best place online to debunk urban myths, pseudoscience, and email forwards in the 90s.
Getting into politics
In the last several years, the site went from fact-checking whether leaves in The Lion King really spell S-E-X to whether a politician really meant what he/she said when promising something.
They first got sucked in with the “Obama from Kenya” hoax, which started in email chains. In 2007, they put up an article about the topic, and they have been discussing political topics more and more from there.
What went wrong?
The original owners were a husband-wife duo. They hired Elyssa Young, an adult film actress, escort, and on-the-ballot politician who simply ran against a Republican candidate she hated.
According to the wife, her husband began an affair with the new hire, and now both cofounders are accusing each other of stealing outrageous sums of money from the site.
Meanwhile, Snopes also hired Kim LaCapria as their lead fact-checker. She is a sex-and-fetish blogger who goes by “Vice Vixen”. And before Snopes, she wrote for Inquisitr, which is a blog with a reputation for publishing hoaxes and fake quotes… interestingly. As you can imagine, she also often lets her biases influence their articles.
How do they “fact check”?
This is not investigative journalism. Their “fact checking” is simply Google searching. That could be useful, but when you add in their bias(es), some of which are documented above, you can easily see where problems could occur.
Even the founder admits that Snopes does not have a “standardized procedure” for fact-checking, Facebook chose the site to decide whether or not a link is “fake news” and label it as such, even though the site will financially benefit.
Snopes is not the bastion of truth that we once thought it was.