Snopes is no longer fact-checking news items that appear of Facebook news feeds. Along with ABC News, The Associated Press, FactCheck.org, and PolitiFact, Snopes was one of the organization Facebook approached for its fact-checking initiative, which it launched when it was under intense criticism over distributing fake news.
The project began at the end of 2016, just a few months after the U.S. Presidential election and as Russia's troll farm controversies and social media meddling entered public knowledge. It was one of Facebook's first attempts to curb the increasing spread of fake news on the platform.
With the help of the data analyzed by the aforementioned fact-checkers, Facebook would try to inform users if a news item is potentially false or disputable.
However, Snopes is bowing out of the program and is now "evaluating the ramifications and costs of providing third-party fact-checking services," adding that it wants to determine if helping Facebook alone is a "net positive" for its online community, publication, and staff.
Fact-Checking Tools For The Web
A number of Snopes employees told Poynter that the company's partnership with Facebook took up too much time for its small staff and that they'd rather develop fact-checking tools instead, which could benefit not just Facebook but the web in general as well. Snopes' VP of operations Vinny Green says as much:
"It seems like we're striving to make [fact-checking] easier for Facebook," said Green, as opposed to making third-party fact-checking more practical for publishers. "The work that fact-checkers are doing doesn't need to be just for Facebook — we can build things for fact-checkers that benefit the whole web, and that can also help Facebook."
The partnership has apparently been a point of great discussion within Snopes' Slack channel for several months. Snopes has stopped debunking news items at the end of 2018 when its contract with Facebook expired. Efforts to renew the contract have not yielded successful results.
Walking Away From Money
Letting go of its partnership with Facebook would mean letting go of a significant amount of money. In 2017, the social network gave Snopes $100,000 for joining the fact-checking initiative.
In any case, Facebook says it respects Snopes' decision and adds that it has strong relationships with a roster of fact checkers globally and that more will be added soon.
"We plan to expand the program this year by adding new partners and languages."