Snopes has quit fact-checking Facebook

What’s fake?
What’s fake?
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Snopes, the internet’s fact-checker, has decided not to renew its partnership with Facebook, the organization announced Friday (Feb. 1).

“At this time we are evaluating the ramifications and costs of providing third-party fact-checking services, and we want to determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication, and staff,” Snopes said in a statement.

The organization, which has been debunking hoaxes and urban legends online since 1994, was part of a network of fact-checkers that Facebook hired in 2016 to help curb the spread of misinformation on the platform. Snopes initially entered into the partnership on a volunteer basis, it said in its statement, but Facebook decided to compensate its partners. The organization received $100,000 in 2017. Snopes acknowledged in its statement that ending the partnership would be a financial hit.

Vinny Green, the organization’s VP of operations, told Poynter that the partnership’s set-up was taking time away from actual fact-checking. Snopes staffers would have to manually enter each false claim into a special dashboard on the platform. The company has just 16 staffers, according to its statement.

“It’s hard for me to concern myself with making Facebook successful when it’s so hard just for Snopes to be successful,” Green told Poynter. “Our community isn’t just on Facebook. We prioritize our readers first.” Unlike some of the other groups that are part of the network, Snopes isn’t attached to a larger organization, such as a news publisher or university.

Snopes is also going through a tumultuous period, having fired its managing editor, and has been embroiled in a messy legal battle over its ownership.

Reporting from both Poynter and The Guardian suggests that Facebook’s fact-checking partnership project has also been a bumpy one, with people within the partner organizations raising concerns about Facebook refusing to treat the fact-checking seriously, among other worries. Misinformation on Facebook’s platforms remains rampant.

“We value the work that Snopes has done, and respect their decision as an independent business,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement sent to Quartz. “Fighting misinformation takes a multi-pronged approach from across the industry. We are committed to fighting this through many tactics, and the work that third-party fact-checkers do is a valued and important piece of this effort. We have strong relationships with 34 fact-checking partners around the world who fact-check content in 16 languages, and we plan to expand the program this year by adding new partners and languages.”