Fact-checking website Snopes said it may shut down over a dispute with an advertising vendor.
In a post on Monday, the 23-year-old site said it was “in danger of closing its doors” over a dispute with a former vendor whom the site claims does not allow Snopes to modify the site or place ads on it.
“We had previously contracted with an outside vendor to provide certain services for Snopes.com,” the site said in a statement. “That contractual relationship ended earlier this year, but the vendor will not acknowledge the change in contractual status and continues to essentially hold the Snopes.com web site hostage.”
The site asked readers to chip in to help Snopes continue operating while it deals with a mounting a legal challenge against its former vendor, which Snopes did not name.
“As misinformation has increasingly threatened democracies around the world (including our own), Snopes.com has stood in the forefront of fighting for truth and dispelling misinformation online,” the statement said. “It is vital that these efforts continue, so we are asking the Snopes.com community to donate what they can.”
Snopes has long been a site that’s dedicated to fact-checking urban legends. Since its inception in 1994, it has grown to become one of the most prominent website to fact-check conspiracy theories and “fake news” online. Snopes formed a partnership last year with Facebook to begin vetting some viral news stories to ensure that Facebook’s newsfeed become more accurate.
The site’s readership expanded greatly during the 2016 election, as its expanded staff dug deep into conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton.
“The fake news wasn’t from Trump so much. It was from people who hated Hillary Clinton,” managing editor Brooke Binkowski told The New York Times. “Once the election was over we figured it would go away.”
Some critics have dismissed Snopes as a fact-checking sites that favours liberals.
The Daily Caller has written pieces recapping its writers’ political leanings, while users on the internet often float unverified theories about the site’s founder, David Mikkelson.