The groundswell of support from all corners of the internet in response to our #SaveSnopes campaign has prompted some reasonable questions about our plans for the money we’ve received as well as the legal dispute precipitating our plea, so we thought we would do what we do best and offer up some information about it. 

Q: $500,000 is a lot of money, how do you plan on spending it?

You’re right, $500,000 is a lot of money, and we are absolutely humbled by the community’s resounding response to our #SaveSnopes fund-raising campaign. As for how we plan to use those donations, it’s quite simple:  In order to continue our fact-checking efforts, we need to be able to pay our staff (which comprises 16 people), accommodate millions of monthly visitors, and cover other basic operating expenses, in addition to funding our legal expenses.

Q: You claim your site is essentially being held hostage.” What does that mean? Can’t you just {insert seemingly plausible technical solution}? 

After we terminated our contract with Proper Media, we sought to migrate our hosting to another service provider — and that provider is anxiously waiting to go (as are we). But migrations of sites like Snopes.com require some level of cooperation, coordination, and courtesy, which Proper Media has refused to provide.   Without access to the servers, our site’s code, or our databases, we cannot migrate our site to a more favorable service provider. 

To rewrite our source code and be reduced to scraping content that we have carefully curated in our databases over the course of more than twenty years is a huge task that carries a significant price tag. Furthermore, any attempt to “take back” the site will likely exacerbate our legal issues.  

Proper Media says that they made an effort to turn over our site to us, but their first and only attempt was a collection of useless files, and appeared to be just for show. 

Q: How are you writing new content and promoting the campaign on the web site if you claim you don’t have access?

We have access to the content management system, which means we can still publish articles and update the content. However, our ability to modify the site is very limited. We can inject small snippets of code such as buttons and banners via a WordPress plugin, but we do not have access to our servers, our source code, or our database.

Q:  Did David Mikkelson take a lavish vacation in France while the company was tanking”?

No, this is another falsehood that has unfortunately been spread in an attempt to try to discredit our CEO.  In his roles as the company’s head and a leading expert in the fact-checking field, David recently participated in a round of industry-related conferences, panels, and speaking engagements in the U.S. and abroad, with one of the events he was slated to attend being held in Strasbourg (hence his presence in France).  The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, not the company, paid David’s travel costs to Europe.

Our team will be spending a lot a time abroad, as ‘Fake News’ isn’t just a problem here in the U.S. We are working extensively with organizations both here and abroad to combat the global spread of misinformation.   For example, our researcher Bethania Palma traveled to Sweden to gather information and interview local officials in preparation for her three-part series examining claims about refugee-driven crime in that country.

Q: Did Bardav really pay for David Mikkelson’s honeymoon?

No.  David and his wife paid the costs of their December 2016 honeymoon themselves.  At the very end of their honeymoon, David accommodated an interview request from CNN in Hong Kong that required them to rearrange their itinerary, so he expensed a reasonable and small fraction (10 percent) of the cost of changing their airline tickets for the flight home.

Check out his appearance:  http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2016/12/14/exp-snopes.cnn

Q: Isn’t this campaign just an attempt to fund a nasty divorce settlement?

No.  The founders of Bardav (Barbara and David Mikkelson) divorced, settled their affairs, and went their separate ways years ago.  Despite attempts to frame the current legal issues involving Bardav as an element of some salacious divorce battle, they have nothing to do with Barbara — she sold her interest in Bardav and moved on with her life well before this dispute began. 

Q: Does Proper Media own 50 percent of Snopes.com?

No.  Snopes.com’s parent company, Bardav, has six individual shareholders, three of whom work for Snopes.com/Bardav, and three of whom do not.  No company or other non-human entity owns any shares of Bardav.  

The three shareholders who work at Snopes.com are:

  • David Mikkelson -  50% shareholder
  • Vincent Green -  3.33% shareholder
  • Ryan Miller - 3.33% shareholder

The three shareholders who do not work at Snopes.com are:

  • Chris Richmond - 20% shareholder
  • Drew Schoentrup - 20% shareholder
  • Tyler Dunn - 3.34% shareholder

Q: Is one of Proper Media’s owners a director of Bardav?

Absolutely not!  No owner or shareholder of Proper Media has ever held a seat on Bardav’s board of directors.  

Q: I heard that Snopes is failing or is not profitable, is that true?

On the contrary, Snopes.com is, and has always been, a completely financially independent, self-sustaining organization, but it’s simply not possible to operate a company of this size and scope indefinitely when 100 percent of our earnings have been withheld from us for months on end.  If all the money that is rightfully ours were released to us, we would now be operating with a healthy margin — a feat in digital media that is a testament to our current leadership and management and the hard work of our team.  

Q: Now that the #SaveSnopes GoFundMe Campaign is fully funded, is Snopes saved?

Once again, our entire staff is humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we’ve received, both financial and moral. As stated above, funds from our campaign will be used to enable us to continue operating  the site while this matter is litigated. Your rapid and vocal response at this crucial juncture has provided us the means us to continue our work without interruption.

However, Snopes.com and its staff remain in limbo until this disruptive legal matter is completely resolved. With your help and support, we are now confident the assets, property, and legacy of Snopes.com will remain with the site’s founder and its dedicated staff. We will remain focused on our work and mission during this difficult time, and we are grateful for your continued support. 

Published: 27 July 2017 @ 9:15AM PST
Updated: 31 July 2017 @ 12:19PM PST