The fact-checking website was launched to correct urban legends and false rumors. Now, with even presidential candidates repeating fake stories from the web, its co-founder David Mikkelson tells the bilge is rising faster than you can pump
The most scenic style to find truth on the internet is to drive north of Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast Highway, blue ocean froth to the left, sunlit mounds cresting to the right, until Malibu Canyon Road, where you take a sharp right and gust for a few miles through the oak-lined knolls and dips of Calabasas, past gated estates that are home to the likes of Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Mel Gibson, and keep going until you reach an odd-looking wood-and-brick house with a US flag on the porch: the home of David Mikkelson.
It feels like a good jumping off point for a hike, or a pony trek. But truly it is the ideal place to explore fibs like whether Hillary Clinton stole $200,000 in White House furnishings, or whether Donald Trump called Republican the dumbest group of voters, or whether Black Lives Matter protesters chanted for dead cops, or whether Nicolas Cage died in a motorcycle collision, or whether chewing gum takes seven years to pass through the digestive system, or whether hair grows back thicker after being shaved, or, if you really, truly must know, whether Richard Gere had an emergency gerbilectomy at Cedars-Sinai hospital.
Mikkelson owns and operates Snopes.com, a hugely popular fact-checking site which debunks urban legends, old wives tales, fake news, shoddy journalism and political spin. It started as a hobby in the internets Pleistocene epoch two decades ago and evolved into a professional site that millions now rely on as a lie-detector. Every day its team of writers and editors interrogate asserts ricocheting around the internet to determine if they are false, true or somewhere in the middle a cleaning of the Augean stables for the digital era.
There are more and more people piling on to the internet and the number of entities pumping out material holds growing, tells Mikkelson, who turns out to be a wry, soft-spoken sleuth. Im not sure Id call it a post-truth age but theres been an opening of the sluice-gate and everything is pour through. The bilge holds coming faster than you can pump.