Friday, March 24, 2017

Rumor Has It started out as a website dedicated to investigating urban legends in 1995.  They have been in the business of investigating information (e.g. false stories) for over 20 years. 

In December 2016, Facebook announced plans to address the issue of false information being placed on social media. is one of the third-party fact checkers investigating items that have been flagged as disputed by users. 

Information on their history, funding, and relationship with Facebook can be found below in their own words. A good way to research a topic is to look at a variety of sources, consider each point of view, apply critical thinking skills, and make up your own mind.

Want to know more about Snopes? Read the following FAQs from their site.

Q: Is everything on this site about ‘urban legends’?
A: In a strict folkloric sense, no. Urban legends are a specific type of folklore, and many of the items discussed on this site do not fall under the folkloric definition of “urban legend.” We employ the more expansive popular (if academically inaccurate) use of “urban legend” as a term that embraces not only urban legends but also common fallacies, misinformation, old wives’ tales, strange news stories, rumors, celebrity gossip, and similar items. 
Q: Why do you have some true stories listed as urban legends"?
A: An “urban legend” is not the same thing as a “fictional tale” or an “apocryphal anecdote,” although many people mistakenly use the term in that sense (e.g., “That’s not true; it’s just an urban legend!”). A tale is considered to be an urban legend if it circulates widely, is told and retold with differing details (or exists in multiple versions), and is said to be true. Whether or not the events described in the tale ever actually occurred is irrelevant to its About Us page. Information about site- and folklore-specific terms that may be unfamiliar to readers is to be found on the classification as an urban legend. For example, the tale about a student who mistakes a math problem thought to be unsolvable for a homework assignment and solves it is an urban legend, even though something very similar did once happen in real life. The tale is still an urban legend, however, because over the years many of its details (i.e., when it happened, where it happened, the identity of the student, the reaction of the student’s instructor) have changed as it has spread.​
Q: Who creates the material for this site?
A: We have a small staff of researchers and writers dedicated to investigating and analyzing rumors.
Q: How do I know the information you’ve presented is accurate?
A: We don’t expect anyone to accept us as the ultimate authority on any topic. Unlike the plethora of anonymous individuals who create and send the unsigned, unsourced e-mail messages that are forwarded all over the Internet, we show our work. The research materials we’ve used in the preparation of any particular page are listed in the bibliography displayed at the bottom of that page so that readers who wish to verify the validity of our information may check those sources for themselves.
Q: Who pays you to maintain this site?
A: is (and always has been) a completely independent entity which is wholly owned by its operators and receives no funding in any form. We have no financers, sponsors, investors, partners, or donors, nor do we have any affiliation or relationship (financial or otherwise) with any political party, religious group, business organization, government agency, or any other outside group or persons. We pay all the costs of producing and operating this web site ourselves and derive our income solely from the advertising revenues it provides.

Q: Are you funded by George Soros?
A: No, we are completely independent and self-supporting; we receive no funding in any form from any person, group, agency, or organization. And we wouldn’t recognize George Soros if we sat next to him on a bus.
Q: Why do you display ads for the same things you’re writing about? Are you being paid to write those articles?
A: Some of the advertising carried on our site is supplied by Google’s AdSense program, a system that scans the text of web pages and automatically displays ads for products and services related to keywords appearing on those pages. We have no control over which ads Google chooses to display on any given page, nor do we have any business relationships with those advertisers. Also, since we have a large and diverse variety of advertisements rotating through our site every day, and we cover a wide range of topics on our site, occasionally an advertisement for a particular business or product may display on a page that includes editorial content about that same business or product out of sheer coincidence. We are not (and never have been) paid or provided with any other form of remuneration in exchange for writing about a particular topic.
Q: Why do you have advertising on your site?
A:We have no financers, sponsors, investors, partners, or donors, so advertising is our sole source of revenue. Without ads, we couldn’t afford to operate this site as a free resource for everyone.
Q: Some of the ads on your site promote disreputable advertisers or cause problems with my computer. Why don’t you get rid of them?
A: We do our best to ensure the advertisements we carry on our site are as inoffensive as possible, and we filter out ads that advocate partisan political causes or candidates, flash excessively, contain adult material, play (non-user-initiated) audio, spawn multiple windows, automatically trigger downloads, install malware, or misleadingly claim visitors have won contests or report the presence of viruses or spyware. However, with several thousand different advertisers rotating through our site on a daily basis, we can’t possibly preview every advertisement appearing on our site (and vet all the sites they link to), so sometimes we’re not aware we’re carrying an ad that violates these guidelines until a reader points it out to us. (Some advertisers deliberately change their names from month to month or furtively switch pre-approved ad copy in order to bypass filters and fool advertising agencies and webmasters who have previously excluded their ads.) If you find an advertisement on our site that violates any of the guidelines mentioned above, please use our “Contact Us” form to send the details (e.g., name of the advertiser, description of the ad, a screen capture of the ad) to us, and we’ll investigate removing it from our site. Please note that without these details (especially screenshots) it is often difficult for us to identify a particular problem as many ads are geo-targeted to specific countries or regions of the U.S., and if the geotargeting excludes the area where we live, we can’t see the ads for ourselves.

The growing proliferation of fake news and other misinformation via social media over the past few years has prompted a public outcry for better methods of discerning and coping with the spread of falsehoods — an effort which has long been central to our mission as the oldest and most trusted fact-checking web site on the Internet.
Since our inception in 1995, has been dedicated to providing accurate, impartial analyses of rumors, hoaxes, fake news, propaganda, and whatever other forms false information may take.
On 15 December 2016, Facebook announced a new initiative aimed at confronting the increasing volume of misinformation online by enhancing users’ ability to report questionable posts and providing a mechanism by which their accuracy can be evaluated by third-party fact checkers and flagged where appropriate as “disputed,” so that social media users can learn more and make informed choices before sharing them. We have agreed to participate in this experiment alongside other well-regarded fact checking sites.
In doing so, the ownership and editorial staff of wish to reiterate our commitment to accuracy and impartiality. Our core mission will not change. We expect to derive no direct financial benefit from this arrangement, nor will we ever relinquish our independence as a fact-checking organization. Our goal is to help empower Facebook users to better control and enhance their own online experience, and we believe that increasing the flow and visibility of accurate, vetted information is one of the best ways to do that.

Review by John Stanton, SWC Librarian 

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