The IFCN welcomes new applications to its Code of Principles beginning Jan. 16, 2024. Our website is currently under renovation, so new signatories should begin the application process by emailing their interest to info@ifcn.org with "New Signatory" in the subject line.

Snopes.com

Organization: Snopes.com
Applicant: Doreen Marchionni
Assessor: Margot Susca

Background

Snopes has for nearly 30 years been an independent fact checking website, and it was in past years an IFCN signatory although this is not a renewal. It has today a dozen editorial staff members and fact checks a range of issues, including its Top list, which hones in on rumors of the day. 

Assessment Conclusion

For this review, I read more than a dozen fact checks examining methodology, sourcing, content, and context. In addition, I looked at its Disclosures page, its Transparency page, and its About Us page to judge compliance with the IFCN Code of Principles. All of these show Snopes is in compliance with the criteria as outlined in the IFCN Code of Principles. But, there is an issue from the last calendar year that needs to be flagged for IFCN leadership.

In August 2021, a BuzzFeed investigation found that Snopes co-founder (and applicant) David Mikkelson plagiarized. Contributor Dean Sterling Jones wrote of Mikkelson, "But he has been lying to the site's tens of millions of readers: A BuzzFeed News investigation has found that between 2015 and 2019, Mikkelson wrote and published dozens of articles containing material plagiarized from news outlets such as the Guardian and the LA Times." Jones' article details that an internal Snopes review confirmed Mikkelson through his own byline or a pseudonym plagiarized in 54 articles.The link to the BuzzFeed piece is here: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/deansterlingjones/snopes-cofounder-plagiarism-mikkelson

Here is a link to Snopes' response to BuzzFeed: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/deansterlingjones/snopes-cofounder-plagiarism-mikkelson#statement and you will see Snopes Managing Editor Doreen Marchionni wrote, "We want to thank Jones for his reporting. It's an example of dogged, watchdog journalism we cherish."

A search on the Snopes site for “plagiarism” brings up the name: Jeff Zarronandia. You have to click on that name to find this from Snopes: "Jeff Z. is a defunct pseudonym created by Snopes.com co-founder David “Snopes” Mikkelson. Regrettably, this pseudonym is tied to a considerable number of retracted stories due to plagiarism and poor attribution." A few results later, and you will see a header "Apology from Members of Snopes Senior Management." Here's the link if you search "plagiarism" on the Snopes site: https://www.snopes.com/?s=plagiarism It's hard to know now, months later, how this was played on Snopes in the days after BuzzFeed broke the story, although it did use its own corrections policy on itself essentially. But, it becomes harder to know how transparency worked in the immediate aftermath on its own site for its readers/users--was it on the main page or relegated to a footer somewhere. I cannot say.

Finally, while it's hard to rank-order journalistic sins, I think many in the journalism and fact checking communities would put outright plagiarism at the top of the list. However, and relevant today, is that plagiarism is not mentioned in the IFCN Code of Principles. As such, I would like to note that, because it falls outside the scope of the assessment criteria, others at IFCN may wish to consider how and if what came to light in August 2021 should be addressed in its application. 

on 18-May-2022 (1 year ago)

Margot Susca assesses application as Compliant

A short summary in native publishing language

I believe Snopes is compliant in all areas addressed, according to the criteria provided. 

Section 1: Eligibility to be a signatory

To be eligible to be a signatory, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 1.1 The applicant is a legally registered organization, or a distinct team or unit within a legally registered organization, and details of this are easily found on its website.
  • 1.2 The team, unit or organization is set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking.
  • 1.3 The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application. For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track. Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.
  • 1.4 On average, at least 75% of the applicant’s fact checks focus on claims related to issues that, in the view of the IFCN, relate to or could have an impact on the welfare or well-being of individuals, the general public or society.
  • 1.5 The applicant’s editorial output is not, in the view of the IFCN, controlled by the state, a political party or politician.
  • 1.6 If the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, it provides a statement on its site setting out to the satisfaction of the IFCN, how it ensures its funders do not influence the findings of its reports.

Criteria 1.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain where on your website you set out information about your organization’s legal status and how this complies with criteria. Attach a link to the relevant page of your website.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

“The Snopes.com web site is wholly owned and operated by Snopes Media Group Inc. (SMG), a California-based S Corporation. SMG is overseen by a board of directors comprising David Mikkelson, Brad Westbrook, and Chris Richmond.”

This information is displayed at https://www.snopes.com/disclosures/



Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Snopes lists its ownership information as well as its funding and allocation of its budget clearly online. Under its About Us page, it notes that it was founded nearly 30 years ago, and that it is an independent site. Its site explains: 

"Snopes got its start in 1994, investigating urban legends, hoaxes, and folklore. Founder David Mikkelson, later joined by his wife, was publishing online before most people were connected to the internet. As demand for reliable fact checks grew, so did Snopes. Now it’s the oldest and largest fact-checking site online, widely regarded by journalists, folklorists, and readers as an invaluable research companion.

Snopes.com is an independent publication owned by Snopes Media Group. Explore our FAQ to learn more about us, or consider becoming a Snopes member. If you have any questions, please let us know."

I looked through its FAQs and found further evidence, which is attached as a screen shot, of how it explains its independence and nonpartisanship. 

Files Attached
Screen Shot 2022-05-... (24 KB)
done_all 1.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please answer the following questions – (see notes in Guidelines for Application on how to answer)

 1. When and why was your fact-checking operation started?
 2. How many people work or volunteer in the organization and what are their roles?
 3. What different activities does your organization carry out?
 4. What are the goals of your fact-checking operation over the coming year?

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

1) Snopes.com was started by Southern California resident David Mikkelson in the mid-1990s as a outlet for verifying, discussing and analyzing urban legends. Over time the site evolved to encompass other types of related material (e.g., hoaxes, scams, political rumors and misinformation) on the road to becoming a full-fledged fact checking organization.

2) Snopes currently comprises 16 employees, whose roles are listed here: https://www.snopes.com/team/

3) Snopes carries out fact checking, general news reporting, and tracking of position and policy statements by candidates through its OnTheIssues.org website.

4) The goals of Snopes over the coming year are to expand the quantity, scope, and reach of its fact-checking efforts and to launch and improved version of its OnTheIssues political position-tracking website.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

I spent a day in March 2022 with a brief follow up in May 2022 reviewing the Snopes site. As mentioned in the above criteria, it was founded in the mid1990s and its aims at the founding and now are clearly stated. Other parts of its site, including its funding, its methods, its selection, its staff, and its nonpartisanship, will be addressed in later criteria. 


done_all 1.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.3
Proof you meet criteria
- The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application.
- For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track.
- Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Snopes.com publishes multiple fact checks daily, as viewable on our “What’s New” page at https://www.snopes.com/latest/

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

I can confirm through a review of its website that Snopes publishes frequent fact checks, meeting the required minimum. As an example, on its What's New page, which I opened March 29, I scanned through its other fact checks and can verify Snopes regularly and consistently publishes fact checks. 


done_all 1.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous three months. No additional information required.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

I reviewed the following fact checks, which I chose to try to get a breadth of fact checks from politics to social to cultural affairs. These will be used in other parts of the assessment are listed with the Snopes headline and date of publication (all 2022).

Did Biden Say Putin ‘Cannot Remain in Power’? March 28

Did McConnell Say ‘No Question’ Jackson Qualified, Then Say He Won’t Support Appointment? March 25

Are Costco Rotisserie Chickens Being Discontinued? March 22

Did Russia ‘Only Sanction Democrats’ and Not Republicans? March 18

No, the 2022 Olympics Aren’t Taking Place at Chernobyl February 9 


done_all 1.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain any commercial, financial and/or institutional relationship your organization has to the state, politicians or political parties in the country or countries you cover. Also explain funding or support received from foreign as well as local state or political actors over the previous financial year.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Snopes has no commercial, financial, or institutional relationship with any state agency, political party, politicians, or political candidates.  Snopes does not receive any funding or support from any state agencies (foreign or domestic) or political actors.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Snopes articulates its funding sources and explains its budget breakdown dating back to calendar year 2016. As an example, in the calendar year 2021, Snopes explained on its Disclosures page of its website: 

"CY 2021

In calendar year 2021, cash flow from SMG’s operations and financing was used as follows:

Employee compensation: 53%

Legal expenses: 28%

Technical support, development, consulting, and advertising services: 23%

Overhead and other expenses (e.g., equipment, travel, education, training, and interest payments): 13%" 

I have included its notice of its commercial operations--found easily under Disclosures--which I reviewed and which show how it receives money. None of that is disclosed as being from any state or political actors. In CY 2020, Snopes noted it received a donation from Wei-Hwa Huang, who is described as a "an award-winning American puzzle-maker" by the website boardgamegeek.com. 


Files Attached
Screen Shot 2022-05-... (132 KB)
done_all 1.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.6
Proof you meet criteria
If you confirmed the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, provide a link to where on your website you set out how you ensure the editorial independence of your work.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

This criteria does not apply. 


done_all 1.6 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 2: A commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness

To be compliant on nonpartisanship and fairness, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 2.1 The applicant fact-checks using the same high standards of evidence and judgement for equivalent claims regardless of who made the claim.
  • 2.2 The applicant does not unduly concentrate its fact-checking on any one side, considers the reach and importance of claims it selects to check and publishes a short statement on its website to set out how it selects claims to check.
  • 2.3 The applicant discloses in its fact checks relevant interests of the sources it quotes where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided. It also discloses in its fact checks any commercial or other such relationships it has that a member of the public might reasonably conclude could influence the findings of the fact check.
  • 2.4 The applicant is not as an organization affiliated with nor declares or shows support for any party, any politician or political candidate, nor does it advocate for or against any policy positions on any issues save for transparency and accuracy in public debate.
  • 2.5 The applicant sets out its policy on non-partisanship for staff on its site. Save for the issues of accuracy and transparency, the applicant’s staff do not get involved in advocacy or publicise their views on policy issues the organization might fact check in such a way as might lead a reasonable member of the public to see the organization’s work as biased.

Criteria 2.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please share links to 10 fact checks published over the past year that you believe demonstrate your non-partisanship.
Please briefly explain how the fact checks selected show that (I) you use the same high standards of evidence for equivalent claims, (II) follow the same essential process for every fact check and (III) let the evidence dictate your conclusions.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/kyle-rittenhouse-biden/

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/paul-gosar-moron-stupid-romney-tweet/

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/democrats-names-troops-killed-kabul/

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trump-putin-savvy-genius/

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/jesse-watters-faucis-assassination/

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/queen-elizabeth-and-farting-horse/

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/sotomayor-100k-children-covid/

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/biden-border-wall/

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/did-biden-say-my-butts-been-wiped/

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/biden-d-day/


We attempt to use non-partisan information and data sources (e.g., peer-reviewed journals, government agency statistics) as much as possible, and to alert readers that information and data from sources such as political advocacy organizations and partisan think tanks should be regarded with skepticism.

Any published sources (both paper and digital) that we quote, link to, use as background information for, or otherwise reference in our fact checks are listed in the Sources section at the foot of each fact check article. 

In cases where we have contacted individuals or organizations by e-mail or telephone for comment, that information is noted within the text of articles.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Snopes publishes a range of fact checks on a range of issues that includes politics, and I saw evidence that both Republican and Democratic claims/issues are regularly fact checked. Examples include: 

Yes, Trump Called Putin’s Ukraine Strategy ‘Savvy’ and ‘Genius’ February 24 and 

Did Biden Fail To Commemorate D-Day in 2021? June 9, 2021 and 

Is Biden Admin Restarting Border Wall Construction? April 7, 2021 

Furthermore, Snopes has separate sections of its website that explain how and why--not to mention if--a claim is selected and debunked/upheld. Snopes has a section online labeled with a subhead in bold called Topic Selection. It notes: 

"

Unlike many other sites in the online fact-checking world, at Snopes.com we do not exclusively focus on politics (although political fact-checking makes up a large portion of our work). We have long observed the principle that we write about whatever items the greatest number of readers are asking about or searching for at any given time, without any partisan considerations.

We don’t choose or exclude items for coverage based on whether they deal with Republican/Democratic, conservative/liberal, or religious/secular issues. We also don’t impose our own judgments about whether a given item’s perceived importance, controversiality, obviousness, or superficiality (or lack thereof) merit our addressing it.

We are, of course, limited in how much we can cover by our available resources and staffing.

The inputs we use to determine reader interest include the tabulation of terms entered into our search engine, reader email submissions, comments and questions posted to our Twitter and Facebook accounts, what’s trending on Google and social media sites.

The items we address come in forms that include (but are not limited to) text circulated online, social media posts, image macros/memes, videos, printed material, and articles from other sites and publications.

We don’t address, without exception, every single item that comes our way: we may decline to undertake a given topic because it is beyond our scope (e.g., answering the question “Does God exist?”) or represents a subject that is not relevant or appropriate for our site (e.g., speculating about a given celebrity’s sexual orientation)."


done_all 2.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you explain how you select claims to check, explaining how you ensure you do not unduly concentrate your fact-checking on any one side, and how you consider the reach and importance of the claims you select to check.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

See “Topic Selection” section at https://www.snopes.com/transparency/

Unlike many other sites in the online fact-checking world, at Snopes.com we do not exclusively focus on politics (although political fact-checking makes up a large portion of our work). We have long observed the principle that we write about whatever items the greatest number of readers are asking about or searching for at any given time, without any partisan considerations.

We don’t choose or exclude items for coverage based on whether they deal with Republican/Democratic, conservative/liberal, or religious/secular issues. We also don’t impose our own judgments about whether a given item’s perceived importance, controversiality, obviousness, or superficiality (or lack thereof) merit our addressing it.

We are, of course, limited in how much we can cover by our available resources and staffing.

The inputs we use to determine reader interest include the tabulation of terms entered into our search engine, reader email submissions, comments and questions posted to our Twitter and Facebook accounts, what’s trending on Google and social media sites.

The items we address come in forms that include (but are not limited to) text circulated online, social media posts, image macros/memes, videos, printed material, and articles from other sites and publications.

We don’t address, without exception, every single item that comes our way: we may decline to undertake a given topic because it is beyond our scope (e.g., answering the question “Does God exist?”) or represents a subject that is not relevant or appropriate for our site (e.g., speculating about a given celebrity’s sexual orientation).

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

I confirm that Snopes under its Transparency page explains its corrections policy, methodology (including that its methods may differ depending on the type of issue under review), sources, and topic selection. From its Topic Selection page: 

"Unlike many other sites in the online fact-checking world, at Snopes.com we do not exclusively focus on politics (although political fact-checking makes up a large portion of our work). We have long observed the principle that we write about whatever items the greatest number of readers are asking about or searching for at any given time, without any partisan considerations.

We don’t choose or exclude items for coverage based on whether they deal with Republican/Democratic, conservative/liberal, or religious/secular issues. We also don’t impose our own judgments about whether a given item’s perceived importance, controversiality, obviousness, or superficiality (or lack thereof) merit our addressing it.

We are, of course, limited in how much we can cover by our available resources and staffing.

The inputs we use to determine reader interest include the tabulation of terms entered into our search engine, reader email submissions, comments and questions posted to our Twitter and Facebook accounts, what’s trending on Google and social media sites.

The items we address come in forms that include (but are not limited to) text circulated online, social media posts, image macros/memes, videos, printed material, and articles from other sites and publications.

We don’t address, without exception, every single item that comes our way: we may decline to undertake a given topic because it is beyond our scope (e.g., answering the question “Does God exist?”) or represents a subject that is not relevant or appropriate for our site (e.g., speculating about a given celebrity’s sexual orientation)."


done_all 2.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Did Biden Fail To Commemorate D-Day in 2021? June 9, 2021 

Snopes rated this True, and its staff member explained that President Biden had faced criticism for not commemorating it. Snopes explained that it examined official and personal social media accounts to scan for acknowledgment. It also examined official White House briefings/transcripts/speeches. The fact check noted Jen Psaki had to acknowledge this and shared that Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Harris both attended D-Day events. 

The fact check gives context, explains how it arrived at its conclusion, and showed its sources. 


done_all 2.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Did Russia ‘Only Sanction Democrats’ and Not Republicans? March 18 

As in all of its fact checks, it provides reasoning for its rating, sources, and context. Snopes rated this Mostly True. It explained the reasoning for its rating here: 

What's True

The 311 Canadians sanctioned by Russian on March 15 included nearly all members of the House of Commons, including representatives from each of the five political parties. By contrast, of the 13 Americans sanctioned by Russia on March 15, none had pronounced ties to the Republican party, and many were either Democrats themselves or had a history of working for Democratic officeholders or candidates. However...

What's False

Only President Joe Biden and onetime presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had run for office or were elected as Democrats — the others were career government officials, appointees, or diplomats whose positions are, formally, non-partisan.


done_all 2.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you publish a statement setting out your policy on non-partisanship for staff and how it ensures the organization meets this criteria.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

As noted on our Staff page at https://www.snopes.com/team/, "Members of our editorial staff are precluded from donating to, or participating in, political campaigns, political party activities, or political advocacy organizations."

As noted on our Disclosures page at https://www.snopes.com/disclosures/:

o Advertisers and vendors have no contact with the site’s editorial staff and do not in any way influence the content we publish.

o We do not accept political advertising, nor do we accept any other form of funding from political parties, political campaigns, or political advocacy groups.

o We accept contributions directly from our readers and from non-partisan organizations [only] to further our mission.



Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

I have reviewed fact checks as well as how Snopes explains information about itself in various sections of its website. Here are two explains that demonstrate its commitment to nonpartisanship. 

At the bottom of its Our Team page, Snopes explains: "Note: Members of our editorial staff are precluded from donating to, or participating in, political campaigns, political party activities, or political advocacy organizations."

Furthermore, under its Sources section of the Transparency page, it explains, "We attempt to use non-partisan information and data sources (e.g., peer-reviewed journals, government agency statistics) as much as possible, and to alert readers that information and data from sources such as political advocacy organizations and partisan think tanks should be regarded with skepticism."


done_all 2.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 3: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Sources

To be compliant on sources, applicants must meet these four criteria

  • 3.1 The applicant identifies the source of all significant evidence used in their fact checks, providing relevant links where the source is available online, in such a way that users can replicate their work if they wish. In cases where identifying the source would compromise the source’s personal security, the applicant provides as much detail as compatible with the source’s safety.
  • 3.2 The applicant uses the best available primary, not secondary, sources of evidence wherever suitable primary sources are available. Where suitable primary sources are not available, the applicant explains the use of a secondary source.
  • 3.3 The applicant checks all key elements of claims against more than one named source of evidence save where the one source is the only source relevant on the topic.
  • 3.4 The applicant identifies in its fact checks the relevant interests of the sources it uses where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided.

Criteria 3.1
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

At the end of each fact check Snopes very clearly labels its sources. It also links to background information to provide resources to users to be able to find and to examine other materials it uses it in its fact checks. As an example, I reviewed the March 23, 2022 fact check Did Biden Admin Stage a White House Photo with Fake Trees?

It received a False label and showed tweets talking about the staged photo were "misleading." It used the following sources plus a photography news service GETTY IMAGES to explain. 

“Magnolia Plant.” Brittanica.com, https://www.britannica.com/plant/magnolia-plant.

Seale, William. The White House Garden. Washington, D.C. : White House Historical Association, 1996. Internet Archive, http://archive.org/details/whitehousegarden0000seal_y6h3.

Superville, Darlene. “Historic White House Magnolia Cut Back for Safety Reasons.” AP News, 27 Dec. 2017, https://apnews.com/article/83be516a65cb417eb400f87cfc9b14b4.


done_all 3.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 3.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

No, the 2022 Olympics Aren’t Taking Place at Chernobyl February 9 

Snopes said: "These photographs are real. However, the large structures in the background are part of an old steel mill, not a nuclear power plant."

Sources used here to give this a Miscaptioned rating included: 

Lianne Kolirin, Nectar Gan and Tom Booth. “Is That a Nuclear Plant? The Story behind Those Towers at the Winter Olympics Big Air.” CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/08/asia/ski-jump-winter-olympics-beijing-climate-hnk-intl/index.html. Accessed 9 Feb. 2022.

Feng, Emily. “A Closed Mill in Beijing No Longer Makes Steel but It Has Purpose in the Olympics.” NPR, 6 Jan. 2022. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2022/01/06/1070849371/a-closed-beijing-mill-no-longer-makes-steel-but-it-has-a-role-in-the-olympics.

No, the Olympics’ Big Air Ski Jump Isn’t next to a Beijing Nuclear Power Plant. https://www.sportingnews.com/hk/olympics/news/nuclear-plant-olympics-ski-jump/bezwjlfpdz68ec9c875fvzyk. Accessed 9 Feb. 2022.

Stanton, Andrew. “Why NBC Calls This Beijing Olympic Venue a Steel Mill, Not a Nuclear Plant.” Newsweek, 8 Feb. 2022, https://www.newsweek.com/why-nbc-calls-this-beijing-olympic-venue-steel-mill-not-nuclear-plant-1677255.


done_all 3.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 3.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Did McConnell Say ‘No Question’ Jackson Qualified, Then Say He Won’t Support Appointment? March 25 

Snopes gives this a Correct Attribution rating. It used a source, which was McConnell saying the words on a Fox News radio program. Here's Snopes' explanation: 

McConnell made the “no question” remark about Jackson on March 2 during an interview on “The Guy Benson Show” on Fox News Radio. When asked by Benson if Jackson is qualified for the U.S. Supreme Court, McConnell answered: “Yes, yes. No question about that.”



done_all 3.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 3.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

These were the sources used to on March 16 fact check (given a Mostly False rating) a claim: Did Congress ‘Give Itself a 21% Raise’ in 2022? 

Here's the context from Snopes: 

What's True

In 2022, the omnibus spending bill included a 21 percent increase in the Members' Representational Allowance — which House members use to pay certain staff, and for travel and work-related expenses. However...

What's False

Congress members did not award themselves a pay raise — a very different proposition — in 2022 . The salary of the typical senator and representative has not changed since 2009.

And here are the sources: 

Americans Can’t Afford Gas, Congress Just Gave Itself a 21% Raise – Frontpagemag. https://www.frontpagemag.com/point/2022/03/americans-cant-afford-gas-congress-just-gave-daniel-greenfield/. Accessed 16 Mar. 2022.

Kelly, Stephanie. “U.S. Gasoline Prices Edge Lower after Hitting Record High Last Week.” Reuters, 13 Mar. 2022. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/us-gasoline-prices-edge-lower-after-hitting-record-high-last-week-2022-03-13/.

“Legislative Branch Bill Boosts Members Representational Allowance, Capitol Police.” Roll Call, 9 Mar. 2022, https://www.rollcall.com/2022/03/09/legislative-branch-bill-boosts-members-representational-allowance-capitol-police/.

“Remarks by President Biden at Signing of H.R. 2471, ‘Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022.’” The White House, 15 Mar. 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/03/15/remarks-by-president-biden-at-signing-of-h-r-2471-consolidated-appropriations-act-2022/.


done_all 3.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 4: A commitment to Transparency of Funding & Organization

To be compliant on funding and organization, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 4.1 Applicants that are independent organizations have a page on their website detailing each source of funding accounting for 5% or more of total revenue for its previous financial year. This page also sets out the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
  • 4.2 Applicants that are the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization make a statement on ownership.
  • 4.3 A statement on the applicant’s website sets out the applicant’s organizational structure and makes clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.
  • 4.4 A page on the applicant’s website details the professional biography of all those who, according to the organizational structure and play a significant part in its editorial output.
  • 4.5 The applicant provides easy means on its website and/or via social media for users to communicate with the editorial team.

Criteria 4.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please confirm whether you are an ‘independent organization’
or ‘the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization’ and share proof of this organizational status.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Snopes is an independent organization.


Files Attached
picture_as_pdf Certificate of Statu... (535 KB)
Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

I confirm its documents from the state of California show it is an independent entity. Attached as a part of the application, you will see a document confirming Snopes’ active status from California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber. 


done_all 4.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.2
Proof you meet criteria
If your organization is an “independent organization”, please share a link to the page on your website where you detail your funding and indicate the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
If your organization is “the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization”, please share a link to the statement on your website about your ownership.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Our sources of funding and the legal form in which Snopes is registered are detailed on our Disclosures page at https://www.snopes.com/disclosures/
Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Snopes has a detailed Disclosures page for calendar years 2016 through 2021 (at the time of this writing in May 2022) on its website. I have read through the website and it more than one spot, I note it mentions its independence as well as how its editorial team operates


done_all 4.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out your organizational structure, making clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Editorial control is vested with the writers and editors listed as Editorial staff at https://www.snopes.com/team/. Each article identifies in its byline whom it was written by. Our Transparency page at https://www.snopes.com/transparency/ also notes that "The final product will pass through the hands of at least one editor. Any piece that is not deemed up to our standards by one or more editors is subject to further revision and review before being released for publication."

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

This is clear. Any person reading the site would be able to understand its structure and how editorial control is exercised. 


done_all 4.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.4
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out the professional biographies of those who play a significant part in your organization’s editorial output.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Clearly explained. Here is an example that shows the depth and professional standing of its staff:  

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a journalist from Lahore, Pakistan, based in New York City. She started her career as an associate producer with Al Jazeera English's “The Stream,” covering a range of local and international stories. She was a segment producer with Comedy Central's “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper,” where she spent too much time watching “InfoWars.” She was also a news producer with Netflix's “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” where she tackled stories about Saudi Arabia, India's elections, oil, and more. She has written and produced as a freelancer for a variety of publications, including Middle East Eye, The Juggernaut, and Catapult. Just because she worked in comedy does not mean she's funny. But if you like reading sad stories about women, she also writes fiction.


done_all 4.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you encourage users to communicate with your editorial team.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

https://www.snopes.com/faqs/#faq-question-1627191065267

"We always welcome reader tips and queries. Send us links to articles, social media posts, or images using our contact form. If you have screenshots or other relevant attachments, use the 'Add File' button on the contact form. Include as much information as possible, including when and where you found the item you hope to see fact-checked."

NOTE: We don't provide a means for the public to communicate directly with members of our editorial staff due to the large amount of spamming, abusive, and threatening messages they receive.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Snopes has a page on its site where it encourages participation. Any reader/user would see that page and understand that they could contact Snopes’ staff.

Furthermore, at 1:25 p.m. EST on March 29, I used the contact form to submit an inquiry stating that I was an IFCN assessor. I immediately received an automated confirmation the message was received. 

Files Attached
Snopes Contact March... (38 KB)
done_all 4.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 5: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Methodology

To be compliant on methodology, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 5.1 The applicant publishes on its website a statement about the methodology it uses to select, research, write and publish its fact checks.
  • 5.2 The applicant selects claims to check based primarily on the reach and importance of the claims, and where possible explains the reason for choosing the claim to check.
  • 5.3 The applicant sets out in its fact checks relevant evidence that appears to support the claim as well as relevant evidence that appears to undermine it.
  • 5.4 The applicant in its fact checks assesses the merits of the evidence found using the same high standards applied to evidence on equivalent claims, regardless of who made the claim.
  • 5.5 The applicant seeks where possible to contact those who made the claim to seek supporting evidence, noting that (I) this is often not possible with online claims, (II) if the person who makes the claim fails to reply in a timely way this should not impede the fact check, (III) if a speaker adds caveats to the claim, the fact-checker should be free to continue with checking the original claim, (IV) fact-checkers may not wish to contact the person who made the claim for safety or other legitimate reasons.
  • 5.6 The applicant encourages users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable.

Criteria 5.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to the statement on your website that explains the methodology you use to select, research, write and publish your fact checks.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

See the "Methodology" section at https://www.snopes.com/transparency/

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The methodology section of its Transparency page is clear. There, a Snopes reader would find the following statement on this important fact checking area:

"Methodology

Since the material we tackle can range from everything to analyzing whether an image has been digitally manipulated to explicating the text of a Congressional bill, we can’t describe any single method that applies to all of our fact-checking.

In general, each entry is assigned to one of the members of our editorial staff who undertakes the preliminary research and writes the first draft of the fact-check.

Our research begins with (whenever possible) attempting to contact the source of the claim for elaboration and supporting information. We also attempt to contact individuals and organizations who would be knowledgeable about, or have relevant expertise in, the subject at hand, as well as searching out printed information (news articles, scientific and medical journal articles, books, interview transcripts, statistical sources) with bearing on the topic.

Depending upon the nature and complexity of the topic, other members of the editorial staff may contribute additional research (or their own personal expertise) and editing. The final product will pass through the hands of at least one editor. Any piece that is not deemed up to our standards by one or more editors is subject to further revision and review before being released for publication."


done_all 5.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

In fact checking Did Congress ‘Give Itself a 21% Raise’ in 2022?, Snopes explained how the claim came about and where it was circulating. Then, it explained how the 21% figure likely came about--coming from the Members Representational Allowance, which it defined and explained. It also hyperlinked to a Congressional Research Service report explaining more. It also used the text of a omnibus spending bill to further explain how it arrived at its conclusion. 


done_all 5.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Did Biden Fail To Commemorate D-Day in 2021? lists a clear methodology to fact check this claim. It explains the use of official records and social media accounts linked to Biden that are both professional and personal. 


done_all 5.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Bad Deepfake of Zelenskyy Shared on Ukraine News Site in Reported Hack March 16 

Snopes verified the Ukrainian TV station had been hacked plus explained the terrible composition of the Ukrainian leader thus an easy giveaway of an online deepfake. Further, they explained: "If you see a video that you think might be fake, try taking a screenshot from the video and then running a reverse-image search on Google Images, TinEye, or another reverse-image search engine. You can also send the video to Snopes and we’ll do our best to authenticate it." 



done_all 5.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.5
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Did the Oscars Not Offer Closed Captions Until 2021? March 28 

This fact checked a viral claim in the aftermath of the 2022 Oscars ceremony. It gave a false rating, and it explained a pretty straightforward methodology in doing so, which was to search for reputable news organizations covering when closed captioning started:

"On March 27, 1982, Wisconsin’s Leader-Telegram newspaper published that a brand new way of providing captions during live television would be debuting at that year’s Oscars:

A new method for providing closed captioning for hearing-impaired viewers will be unveiled by the National Captioning Institute during ABC-TV coverage of the 54th annual Academy Awards presentations March 29.

Called Real Time, the method is a form of electronic computerized shorthand which will allow hearing-impaired viewers to receive closed captions throughout the entire telecast, including acceptance speeches the moment they are spoken.

NCI spokesman John E. D. Ball said Real Time involves a courtroom style stenotype machine and a computer capable of transmitting phonetic symbols into words." Here's another example of multiple sourcing, too. 

Associated Press. “3 Networks Start Captioned TV for the Deaf.” Chicago Tribune, 16 Mar. 1980, https://www.newspapers.com/image/386898773/.

“Closed Captions for Oscars.” Leader-Telegram, 27 Mar. 1982, https://www.newspapers.com/image/360437555/.

Ebert, Roger. Coming Home Movie Review & Film Summary (1978). 1 Jan. 1978, https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/coming-home-1978.

Jane Fonda Winning Best Actress. 51st Oscars (1979), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL_73XeE8fo. 


done_all 5.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.6
Proof you meet criteria
Please describe how you encourage users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable. Include links where appropriate. If you do not allow this, explain why.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

https://www.snopes.com/faqs/#faq-question-1627191065267

"We always welcome reader tips and queries. Send us links to articles, social media posts, or images using our contact form. If you have screenshots or other relevant attachments, use the 'Add File' button on the contact form. Include as much information as possible, including when and where you found the item you hope to see fact-checked. Due to the volume of correspondence we receive every day, we regret that we may not be able to respond to your request personally."

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

This is clear, and as I stated above, I tried out the online tip system to make sure it was working. (I put in the tip line "I am an IFCN assessor.") Furthermore, Snopes is clear that it may not be able to get to all tips, nor can it fact check the existence of phenomena like God. See below from its Transparency page found here: https://www.snopes.com/transparency/

We don’t address, without exception, every single item that comes our way: we may decline to undertake a given topic because it is beyond our scope (e.g., answering the question “Does God exist?”) or represents a subject that is not relevant or appropriate for our site (e.g., speculating about a given celebrity’s sexual orientation).


done_all 5.6 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 6: A commitment to an Open & Honest Corrections Policy

To be compliant on corrections policy, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 6.1 The applicant has a corrections or complaints policy that is easily visible and accessible on the organization’s website or frequently referenced in broadcasts.
  • 6.2 The policy sets out clear definitions of what it does and does not cover, how major mistakes, especially those requiring revised conclusions of a fact check, are handled, and the fact that some complaints may justify no response. This policy is adhered to scrupulously.
  • 6.3 Where credible evidence is provided that the applicant has made a mistake worthy of correction, the applicant makes a correction openly and transparently, seeking as far as possible to ensure that users of the original see the correction and the corrected version.
  • 6.4 The applicant, if an existing signatory, should either on its corrections/complaints page or on the page where it declares itself an IFCN signatory inform users that if they believe the signatory is violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN, with a link to the IFCN site.
  • 6.5 If the applicant is the fact-checking unit of a media company, it is a requirement of signatory status that the parent media company has and adheres to an open and honest corrections policy.

Criteria 6.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to where you publish on your website your corrections or complaints policy. If you are primarily a broadcaster, please provide evidence you frequently reference your corrections policy in broadcasts.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

See the "Corrections Policy" section at https://www.snopes.com/transparency/

Our policy is to promptly correct errors of fact and to clarify any potentially confusing or ambiguous statements in our articles. Readers can submit potential corrections through the Contact form; those submissions will be routed to an editor for evaluation and action.

Whenever we change the rating of a fact check (for any reason), correct or modify a substantive supporting fact (even if it does not affect the item’s overall rating), or add substantial new information to an existing article, those changes are noted and explained in an Update box at the foot of the article.

Corrections of typographical errors, misspellings, or other minor revisions not deemed substantive by our editors are not noted.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

It has a clear corrections policy found on its Transparency page here https://www.snopes.com/transparency/. Its corrections policy states:

“Corrections Policy

Our policy is to promptly correct errors of fact and to clarify any potentially confusing or ambiguous statements in our articles. Readers can submit potential corrections through the Contact form; those submissions will be routed to an editor for evaluation and action.

Whenever we change the rating of a fact check (for any reason), correct or modify a substantive supporting fact (even if it does not affect the item’s overall rating), or add substantial new information to an existing article, those changes are noted and explained in an Update box at the foot of the article.

Corrections of typographical errors, misspellings, or other minor revisions not deemed substantive by our editors are not noted.”


done_all 6.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the corrections policy to verify it meets critera. No additional information needed.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Snopes' correction policy: 

"Our policy is to promptly correct errors of fact and to clarify any potentially confusing or ambiguous statements in our articles. Readers can submit potential corrections through the Contact form; those submissions will be routed to an editor for evaluation and action.

Whenever we change the rating of a fact check (for any reason), correct or modify a substantive supporting fact (even if it does not affect the item’s overall rating), or add substantial new information to an existing article, those changes are noted and explained in an Update box at the foot of the article.

Corrections of typographical errors, misspellings, or other minor revisions not deemed substantive by our editors are not noted."

I reviewed several corrections from the last year and note that they appear with an Editor's Note explaining why a rating was changed or information updated. 


done_all 6.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a short statement about how the policy was adhered to over the previous year (or six months if this is the first application) including evidence of two examples of the responses provided by the applicant to a correction request over the previous year. Where no correction request has been made in the previous year, you must state this in your application, which will be publicly available in the assessment if your application is successful.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Its corrections are clearly labeled, and context is given to correct the record when needed. As an example, in this piece from February 2022 headlined “Did Biden Admin…”, you can see how it explained a new rating based on new details.

“[Editor’s note: This article has been updated after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stipulated that federal funding would not be used to include pipes in the safe smoking kits to be distributed as part of a substance abuse harm reduction program. As a result of that newly-stipulated detail, Snopes has changed its rating from “Mostly False” to “Outdated.”] “


done_all 6.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.4
Proof you meet criteria
If you are an existing signatory, please provide a link to show where on your site you inform users that if they believe you are violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN of this, with a link to the complaints page on the IFCN site.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

N/A: Snopes is not an existing signatory.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

This does not apply. 


done_all 6.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.5
Proof you meet criteria
If you are the fact-checking unit of a media company, please provide a link to the parent media company’s honest and open corrections policy and provide evidence that it adheres to this.

Snopes.com
15-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

N/A: Snopes is not the fact-checking unit of a media company.

Margot Susca Assessor
29-Mar-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

This does not apply.


done_all 6.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.