Snopes Survives Legal 'Hostage' Crisis

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 27, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Fact or fiction: Snopes is in danger of shutting down?

It's a fact, according to Snopes, the internet's fact-checking website.

The story goes that Snopes had contracted with an outside vendor, but the vendor will not relinquish control of the website, including advertising. That means Snopes is running out of money.

Held Hostage

Proper Media, a web development company, sued Snopes' parent company, Bardav, alleging breach of contract and other claims. Bardav has filed counterclaims.

In the meantime, Snopes representatives say the web developer is keeping data and advertising revenue from them. The staff said the vendor is holding Snopes "hostage."

"Our legal team is fighting hard for us, but, having been cut off from all revenue, we are facing the prospect of having no financial means to continue operating the site and paying our staff (not to mention covering our legal fees) in the meanwhile," they said.

It was a "shocking" plea because the fact-checking website has been a "vital part of internet infrastructure in the #fakenews era," the Atlantic reported.

Pleas Answered

According to reports, Snopes has raised over $650,000 to stay afloat. It's GoFundMe goal was $500,000, but the campaign is ongoing.

Snopes' founder, David Mikkelson, told Ars Technica that it's a temporary fix while the litigation continues.

"If they had not been wrongfully withholding revenue, we would have surplus of several hundreds of thousands of dollars -- then we would not have to run a donation campaign," Mikkelson said. "We'll ultimately find a way to raise our own revenue without them."

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