David Mikkelson, founder of Snopes.com, a website known for its biased opinions and inaccurate information they write about stories on the internet in order to generate advertising revenue, told ABC News that he approves of what a story like this is accomplishing.
“You have to understand that when a story like this goes viral, and we spend a minute or two debunking it, we make lots of money. Stories like this have helped put my children through college, buy a new car, a home and even get the Silverback gorilla my wife Barbara always wanted since she was a child,” Mikkleson said. “We claim ‘to provide evidence for such debunkings and confirmation as well‘, but that’s just ridiculous. Do you know how much time that would take? Instead, we just copy and paste parts of the original article into ours, write a couple sentences, and that’s it. I just want to be clear, our website does zero journalism or anything creative, and I’m only telling you this for legal reasons. For example, do you remember that recent article we wrote debunking a story which claimed Scientology lost its tax-exempt status? Did you actually read our story? Who is the name of the person responsible for the hoax? What is the actual website URL? We claim to know it, but no real information is posted by us.” Mikkelson continues, “It is common for us to rewrite a story we’re debunking if we don’t like it. In one recent story of ours, we actually removed a person’s name from the original article and then called him a liar, oh the hypocrisy, but it is so funny at the same time! We also like to post fake, un-funny, juvenile disclaimers supposedly from the site in question and it is our authors, such as Jeff Zarronandia who are responsible for those gems. We tell our readers that the disclaimer is from the story we are debunking, but a simple google search that locates the actual article will show that our disclaimer is 100% fabricated. Sometimes I think that someone should start a company that debunks our debunkings, they could probably make a lot of money,” Mikkelson laughs. “And lots of people complain about our authors attacking websites and their owners for reasons that are 100% proven false, but since we block archive.org it just becomes their word versus ours. Plus, I know for our writers like Kim LaCapria, it is way more fun for them to cause controversy than report the facts; it results in more visitors. Kim LaCapria and Jeff Zarronandia go as far as accusing the site that the story originated from as ‘a clickbait fake news site that infringes the trademark-protected visual elements and domain names of legitimate news outlets in order to generate traffic and drive advertising revenues by creating and spreading entirely false “news” stories‘. The thing that is troubling about these claims and what Snopes and our authors are known for. We don’t list ONE factual piece of evidence to back up our claims; It’s just more of our hack, unethical journalism, and I only tell you this for legal reasons. I think it is business as usual for us to accuse the story we are debunking of spreading malware and viruses, but we never say what website it actually is. I think warning people about a site that could potentially destroy their computer is probably a good idea, and I hope one day to do that kind of ethical journalism, but people will click our ads regardless, bottom line; so why do the extra work? To be honest, I’d say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.”