Snopes CEO admits “serious errors in judgment” for plagiarizing articles from over 50 articles


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David Mikkelson, co-founder and CEO of Snopes, the well-known online fact-checker, apologized and admitted making “serious errors in judgment” for plagiarizing more than 50 articles.

“The results of our internal audit confirmed that I have engaged in several serious copyright infringements on content that Snopes was not permitted to use. There is no excuse for my serious errors in judgment ”, Mikkelson said in a statement.

He added: “I’m sorry. I have given full authority to our editor, Doreen Marchionni, to take all necessary steps to resolve these issues.

Snopes has retracted more than 50 items and suspended his co-founder after investigating plagiarism charges against him. Mikkelson used a pseudonym, his own name, and Snopes’ signature to publish the pieces. He remains an officer and shareholder at 50% of the site.

After BuzzFeed News contacted Snopes regarding cases of lifted phrases and phrases that appeared in articles on the site, the company said, “Let’s be clear: Plagiarism undermines our mission and values, period. 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.

BuzzFeed’s investigation uncovered plagiarism from The Guardian and The Los Angeles Times. The articles in question, Snopes said, were generally classified in the “breaking” or “weird” sections of the site and included topics such as same-sex marriage licenses and the death of David Bowie.

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Read Mikkelson’s full statement below:

The results of our internal audit confirmed that I had committed several serious copyright infringements on content that Snopes was not permitted to use. There is no excuse for my serious errors in judgment. I am sorry. I have given full authority to our editor, Doreen Marchionni, to take all necessary steps to resolve these issues.

While I can’t change the past, I couldn’t be more proud of how Snopes has evolved since then. Snopes has grown beyond our roots as a one-man band website into a newsroom of dedicated professional journalists who provide the public with reliable information. Through their efforts, Snopes has published original reports on the COVID-19 pandemic, recent elections, Russian disinformation efforts and much more. The last thing I wanted was for my mistakes to interfere with their great work, and I’m doing everything I can to fix them.

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