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14th December 2018NEWS
Snopes Paid to Push ‘Propaganda’ by Facebook, Former Editor Reveals By Jay Greenberg

Snopes Paid to Push ‘Propaganda’ by Facebook, Former Editor Reveals

Snopes is paid by Facebook to push "propaganda," according to the former managing editor of the "fact-checker," who claims the social media giant "doesn't care" about facts and is using journalists to promote an agenda so it can "pass the buck." According to a bombshell report by the Guardian, several current and former Facebook fact-checkers have stepped forward and spoken out to reveal their distrust in the social network and their fact-checking employers. Facebook has fact-checking partnerships with Snopes, PolitiFact, Factcheck.org, the Weekly Standard, and Associated Press, and uses the information provided by these organizations to reduce the reach of posts that are "debunked" in their News Feed. The partnering with these fact-checkers has come under heavy criticism, mainly due to the almost-monopolized influence news on Facebook has, which is then being filtered out by unregulated individuals who are often financially motivated and express political bias. “They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR,” declared former Snopes managing editor Brooke Binkowski during an interview with the Guardian. “They’re not taking anything seriously. "They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck… "They clearly don’t care.” “You’re not doing journalism anymore. You’re doing propaganda,” she continued, adding, “They threw us under the bus at every opportunity.” Another former Snopes employee, Kim LaCapria, 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,” and expressing distaste with the fact that Snopes was being paid by Facebook. LaCapria said 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.” Aside from allegedly being paid by Facebook, Snopes also generates revenue by filling its website with advertisements from Google Adsense, asking for donations from readers via PayPal, and has an active GoFundMe campaign to "Save Snopes" which has so far generated over $850,000 of its $2 million goal. Of course, it's understandable that a website has overheads that need to be covered, but when a company is primarily driven by profit, how can they be trusted to remain non-partisan? According to a report by the Daily Mail, Snopes founder David Mikkelson was accused of embezzling thousands from the company. Mikkelson's ex-wife Barbara, claimed in legal documents he embezzled $98,000 of company money and spent it on "himself and prostitutes."  During the lengthy and bitter legal dispute, CEO David Mikkelson also claimed to be underpaid and was demanding the "industry standard" or at least $360,000 a year. Being motivated by "facts" is apparently very lucrative. And in the case of Snopes, their business model is a simple, yet devastatingly effective one since they partnered with Facebook and Google: They debunk viral news, and posts. Therefore, if a post goes viral on social media, and Snopes says that it's "false," then it will be flagged as so and Facebook will place a link to the "fact-check," thus driving more traffic and revenue to Snopes. Due to this arrangement, it adds a clear incentive to mark a viral news story as false rather than confirming lesser-known facts as true.

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