It has presented itself as an arbiter of truth online, but the far-left fact-checking website Snopes.com has been caught plagiarizing dozens of articles for years.
On Friday, Aug. 13, BuzzFeed News revealed that its investigation found David Mikkelson, co-founder, and CEO of Snopes, wrote and published dozens of articles containing material plagiarized from mainstream news outlets between 2015 and 2019.
To inquiries from BuzzFeed, Snopes confirmed, after an internal review, that Mikkelson wrote and published 54 articles with plagiarized content.
Mikkelson was busted copying and pasting entire paragraphs from news websites without citing the sources to produce articles under a pseudonym.
Snopes decided to suspend its CEO from all editorial production pending an outcome to the internal review and remove his access to the site’s content management system.
Snopes declared that it plans to retract all of the offending stories and disable advertising on those articles.
Mikkelson apologized for his plagiarism, saying, “There is no excuse for my serious lapses in judgement. I’m sorry.”
The Snopes co-founder told BuzzFeed that his plagiarism was due to his lack of formal journalism experience.
“I didn’t come from a journalism background. I wasn’t used to doing news aggregation. A number of times I crossed the line to where it was copyright infringement. I own that,” Mikkelson said.
Snopes, on Aug. 14, also issued an apology from select members of its senior management, which made clear that “Plagiarism undermines our mission and values, full stop. It has no place in any context within this organization. We invite readers to let us know here if they find any other examples of plagiarized content so that we can apply the same treatment as above.”
Snopes, founded in 1995, has earned two Webby Awards and served as one of Facebook’s fact-checking partners between Dec. 2016 and Feb. 2019. In recent years, the website has been troubled by a bitter ownership dispute.