These sources have minimal bias and use very few loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes). The reporting is factual and usually sourced. These are the most credible media sources. See all Least Biased sources.
- Overall, we rate Snopes on the left side of Least Biased based on infrequent stories that favor the left. We also rate them High for factual reporting based on transparency and proper sourcing of information.
Factual Reporting: HIGH
World Press Freedom Rank: USA 45/180
Founded in 1994 by Barbara and David Mikkelson, Snopes.com, also known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, was one of the first online fact-checking websites. It is a resource for validating and debunking such stories in American popular culture. Snopes ownership has said that the site receives more complaints of liberal bias than conservative bias, but insists that the same debunking standards are applied to all political claims and urban legends.
Funded by / Ownership
According to their about page, Snopes.com is an independent publication owned by Snopes Media Group. They derive funding from online advertising as well as donations. They fully disclose funding and expenses, as well as listing any donation over $10,000. For example, they list that Facebook paid them $100,000 and the James Randi Educational Foundation awarded them $75,000.
Analysis / Bias
In 2012, FactCheck.org reviewed a sample of Snopes’ responses to political rumors regarding George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and Barack Obama, and found them to be free from bias in all cases. Critics of the site have made the false claim that the website is funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, which has been debunked many times as they are funded through advertising and donations, in which they disclose.
In review, Snopes was previously a signatory of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) that is run by the Poynter Institute. Snopes was independently verified by the IFCN, which lists its core principles as: “non-partisanship and fairness, transparency of sources, transparency of funding and organization, transparency of methodology, and open and honest corrections policy.” They met these criteria, along with 50+ other fact-checkers world wide. However, as of 2019 they are no longer affiliated with the IFCN.
Snopes always openly sources their information and avoids emotional wording, though they do occasionally publish news stories that offer some opinions. Snopes is frequently accused of liberal bias by some on the right. For example, the Daily Express of the UK and the Daily Caller have both criticized them for fact checks they felt were wrong or biased against the right. According to research performed by Real Clear Politics in the article: Snopes and Editorializing Fact Checks, they determined that out of the six fact-checkers working with Facebook, “that Snopes is the least likely to fact-check matters of opinion.” This is important because opinion is something that cannot be fact-checked. The article went on to say “We have found that since we started our project, Snopes has fact-checked opinions only 2 percent of the time. In other words, 98 percent of the time it sticks to matters of verifiable fact. Such an achievement is even more remarkable given that during this period, they produced the second-most articles of the six fact-checking outfits.”
A review of their fact checks indicates that they are properly sourced and factual, however, when it comes to political fact checks they check Republicans more often. This may not be due to bias, but rather that the President frequently makes controversial claims and Republicans control the Senate.
The Snopes website also features original news reporting that is again factual and properly sourced. From an editorial perspective, slightly more stories are favorable to the left such as this: Founders: Removal from office is not the only purpose of impeachment. This story is republished from The Conversation. In fact, many stories are republished from The Conversation. Original reporting such as this Is Trump Withdrawing Deportation Protections for Families of Active Troops? is low biased, factual, and properly sourced to left-leaning sources such as NPR and the New York Times as well as Government sources.
Overall, we rate Snopes on the left side of Least Biased based on infrequent stories that favor the left. We also rate them High for factual reporting based on transparency and proper sourcing of information. (D. Van Zandt 7/10/2016) Updated (01/11/2020)