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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Snopes sued? TRUE

The liberal fact-checking site,, seems headed for a court battle as an Internet management company filed a lawsuit in California against the site's owner. His divorce from the co-founder figures into this. As do hookers.

Pass the popcorn.

From Courthouse News Service:
Internet media management company Proper Media sued Bardav Inc. and its owner David Mikkelson over the “unlawful jockeying for ownership and control of the fact-checking website,” which gained a national profile during the presidential election last year and “recently entered into a high-profile agreement with Facebook to integrate fact-checking services into its social media platform,” according to the 16-page lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court on May 4.
Mikkelson and his ex-wife Barbara founded Bardav – which owns the Snopes website – in 2003, and each owned a 50 percent shared in the company. When the two divorced, Barbara Mikkelson sold her share to Proper Media last July.
Now anyone can sue anybody for anything, but a fact-checking site accused of chicanery is amusing -- and a high stakes game now that Snopes just got a gig with Facebook.

From Poynter:
"Mikkelson was unhappy that Barbara maintained ownership of half of what he always considered to be his company after the divorce," the complaint reads. "Thus, after Proper Media’s purchase of Barbara’s share, Mikkelson sought to finally gain control of Bardav by aligning and conspiring with (Vincent) Green."
Green, who was among Proper Media's five-person management staff, then "conspired" with Mikkelson to take control of Bardav by combining their interests in the company, according to the complaint. However, Bardav's cross-complaint makes no mention of that alleged effort.
If the original complaint goes to a jury trial, it would be held in San Diego County, according to the document.
That divorce has embarrassed Snopes as it pulled the curtain that hid Mikkelson.

A story in the Daily Mail last December cast doubt about Snopes being unbiased. Journalists scoffed at the London tabloid’s story.

“When I first read through the Daily Mail article I immediately suspected the story itself must certainly be Fake News because of how devastating the claims were and that given that Snopes was so heavily used by the journalistic community, if any of the claims were true, someone would have already written about them and companies like Facebook would not be partnering with them. I also noted that despite having been online for several hours, no other major mainstream news outlet had written about the story, which is typically a strong sign of a false or misleading story,” Kalev Leetaru of Forbes wrote on December 22.

The Mail story was based largely on a divorce proceeding between the founders of Snopes. But he had some questions, and emailed them to David Mikkelson, the founder of Snopes. Leetaru wrote, “I fully expected him to respond with a lengthy email in Snopes’ trademark point-by-point format, fully refuting each and every one of the claims in the Daily Mail’s article and writing the entire article off as Fake News.

“It was with incredible surprise therefore that I received David’s one-sentence response which read in its entirety ‘I'd be happy to speak with you, but I can only address some aspects in general because I'm precluded by the terms of a binding settlement agreement from discussing details of my divorce’.”

Leetaru sent a follow-up series of questions and asked Mikkelson if one of the fact-checkers had not sought public office.

“It's pretty much a given that anyone who has ever run for (or held) a political office did so under some form of party affiliation and said something critical about their opponent(s) and/or other politicians at some point. Does that mean anyone who has ever run for office is manifestly unsuited to be associated with a fact-checking endeavor, in any capacity?” Mikkelson replied.

This gobsmacked Leetaru.

“That is actually a fascinating response to come from a fact checking organization that prides itself on its claimed neutrality. Think about it this way – what if there was a fact checking organization whose fact checkers were all drawn from the ranks of Breitbart and Infowars? Most liberals would likely dismiss such an organization as partisan and biased,” he wrote.

“Similarly, an organization whose fact checkers were all drawn from Occupy Democrats and Huffington Post might be dismissed by conservatives as partisan and biased. In fact, when I asked several colleagues for their thoughts on this issue this morning, the unanimous response back was that people with strong self-declared political leanings on either side should not be a part of a fact-checking organization and all had incorrectly assumed that Snopes would have felt the same way and had a blanket policy against placing partisan individuals as fact checkers.”

The key words are “incorrectly assumed.” Journalists assumed that there was no bias at Snopes because the people at Snopes said there was no bias. Also, everybody else in the circles of journalism said Snopes was unbiased, and no one wanted to challenge that assumption. Finally, the media liked the conclusions that Snopes reach which showed conservatives as liars, and liberals only make an occasional mistake.

“At the end of the day, it is clear that before we rush to place fact checking organizations like Snopes in charge of arbitrating what is truth on Facebook, we need to have a lot more understanding of how they function internally and much greater transparency into their work,” Leetaru concluded.

Ah, extra butter.

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  1. I forget how long ago it was that I realized Snopes was NOT neutral. I don't check Snopes with any frequency.

    1. Same here. Haven't visited in years.

    2. I only wish I could remember the quote Mikkelsen said about Snopes, in an interview somewhere, that his website was mainly for entertainment purposes, but that he did in fact have a liberal bias which he made no attempt to conceal.

  2. Sounds like an old soap opera. Was there a doctor involved? - Elric

    1. Yes, but after he got his TARDIS running again he left.
      – mfm

  3. I wrote twice about Snopes' manipulation of facts to instill their bias in 2014. They use all kinds of semantic tricks and recursive references to answer questions no one asked, then they manipulate searches to direct the real event/question to the constructed article. My blog posts were about Ebola's Airborn Potential, and the Coins issued without the National Motto, but there are many other examples of the same techniques. The "answer a question no one asked so we can label it False" is one of the most devious and annoying because it fools so many people.