- Overall, we rate Snopes Left-Center biased based on news story selection that slightly favors a liberal perspective, while fact-checking is reasonably balanced. We also rate them High for factual reporting based on transparency and proper sourcing of information.
Bias Rating: LEFT-CENTER
Factual Reporting: HIGH
Country: USA (44/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: Website
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic
MBFC Credibility Rating: HIGH CREDIBILITY
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 in the past. In 2020, they received a donation of $10,030 from Wei-Hwa Huang and Trisha Brooke Huang. Snopes offers full transparency with funding.
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 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, which they disclose.
Snopes was previously a signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) that the Poynter Institute runs. 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 80+ other fact-checkers worldwide. However, in 2019 they left the IFCN.
Further, Snopes always openly source their information and avoid emotional wording, though they 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 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.”
In 2021, Snopes’ fact-checks remain properly sourced and factual. We have also found a reasonable balance between fact checks on the right and left as a new Democratic administration makes statements subject to fact-checking.
Finally, the Snopes website also features news reports from other sources such as the Associated Press. From an editorial perspective, the news stories they choose to publish are slightly more 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. 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. In general, their original reporting and news curation hold a left-of-center bias.
Failed Fact Checks
- They are Fact-Checkers
Overall Bias and Credibility Rating
We rate Snopes Left-Center biased based on news story selection that slightly favors a liberal perspective. We also rate them High for factual reporting based on transparency and proper sourcing of information with reasonably balanced fact-checks. (D. Van Zandt 7/10/2016) Updated (05/26/2021)