According to Snopes former managing editor Brooke Binkowski (who was fired for reasons unknown to her, apparently), Facebook pays Snopes to push certain “propaganda.” (She said at one point, it seemed as if Facebook was pushing reporters to prioritize debunking misinformation that affected Facebook advertisers- something they disputed after the Guardian piece went to print.) And that, ultimately, they don’t care about facts, just their agenda:
“Binkowski, who left Snopes earlier this year and now runs her own factchecking site, which does not partner with Facebook, said the Facebook-Snopes partnership quickly became counterproductive. During early conversations with Facebook, Binkowski said she tried to raise concerns about misuse of the platform abroad, such as the explosion of hate speech and misinformation during the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and other violent propaganda.
‘I was bringing up Myanmar over and over and over,’ she said. ‘They were absolutely resistant.
Binkowski, who previously reported on immigration and refugees, said Facebook largely ignored her: “’I strongly believe that they are spreading fake news on behalf of hostile foreign powers and authoritarian governments as part of their business model.'”1
A sentiment echoed by another recently departed employee, Kim LaCapria, who recently left the company “over its partnership with Facebook, accusing it of focusing only on the ‘appearance of trying to prevent damage without actually doing anything.’2 She went on to say “she was particularly upset to learn that Facebook was paying Snopes: ‘That felt really gross … Facebook has one mission and fact checking websites should have a completely different mission.’”3 (Side note: Kim LaCapria was just one of the staffers who wrote a false news article about us. When called out on video by Erin Elizabeth, our founder, she quietly had to change the false article but never apologized.)
Now, we can’t prove that Snopes is paid by Facebook but we do know that they generate revenue with ads AND via donations from readers thanks to their STILL ACTIVE GoFundMe campaign. Which is, in my humble opinion, totally and utterly ridiculous. And keep this is in mind: Snopes isn’t actually broke (but CEO David Mikkelson might be thanks to his spending habits). After all, their business model is simple and effective since partnering with Facebook and Google: They debunk viral news and posts. Here’s an example, say a post goes viral on social media and Snopes labels it “fake news,” it’s next flagged as such and then Facebook places a link to the “fact-check,” which drives more traffic and revenue to Snopes.
So tell me, how can a company that’s primarily driven by profit, be trusted to remain non-partisan? I submit to you that they cannot.
“Current and former Facebook fact checkerss told the Guardian that the tech platform’s collaboration with outside reporters has produced minimal results and that they’ve lost trust in Facebook, which has repeatedly refused to release meaningful data about the impacts of their work. Some said Facebook’s hiring of a PR firm that used an antisemitic narrative to discredit critics – fueling the same kind of propaganda factcheckers regularly debunk – should be a deal-breaker.
Facebook has said that third-party factchecking is one part of its strategy to fight misinformation, and has claimed that a “false” rating leads an article to be ranked lower in news feed, reducing future views by 80% on average. The company has refused, however, to publicly release any data to support these claims.”4
However, thanks to Snopes clear bias, visits to their website have taken a nosedive in the last couple of months and more recently, the website data tool SimilarWeb reported that visits to their page had dropped another 20 percent in November to only 19.59 million for the month. (It was 37.79 million in July.)
And how do we know they are biased? The proof is in the fact that nearly every website repeatedly flagged is a conservative one:
- Breitbart accused Snopes in November of trying to “wash away” the story of armed members of the New Black Panther Party campaigning for the Democrat gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, Stacey Abrams.
- Earlier this month, The Daily Caller accused Snopes of left-bias after it “botched” its fact-check of a viral meme that was mocked within political circles for spreading false information. Snopes said that the “general idea” of the meme was “correct,” yet, according to the TheDCNF, the fact-checker intentionally framed it that way as it portrayed President Trump in a negative light if the “wildly misleading” meme was true.
- A satirical article from popular satire website Babylon Bee about CNN using a washing machine to “spin the news,” was also nearly removed by Facebook after Snopes fact-checked it as false.
- Facebook paid a consulting firm to go after its opponents by publicizing their association with billionaire Jewish philanthropist George Soros. The attacks fed into a well-known conspiracy theory about Soros being the hidden hand behind all manner of liberal causes and global events. It was later revealed that Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, had directed her staff to research Soros’s financial interests after he publicly criticized them.5
We can’t say we’re sorry. But we can say it’s about time someone else besides us told the truth about Snopes.