Fact-checking website Snopes.com has raised more than $500,000 in 24 hours to fight a contentious legal battle that leaves the website in peril of shutting down for good.
On Monday, Snopes created a last-ditch fundraising campaignÂ and issued a plea for readers to donate. On a post on its website, SnopesÂ founderÂ David MikkelsonÂ claims an outside vendor that purchased an ownershipÂ stake in the site last yearÂ is essentially holding the website hostage. The vendor, Proper Media,Â is preventing the the site from collecting advertising dollars â one of the only forms of revenue the site has, the post said.Â
Since launching a GoFundMe toÂ keep the website functioning, pay staff salaries and cover legal costs, Snopes has surpassed its goal of $500,000 with over 20,000 individual donations.Â
“Our legal team is fighting hard for us, but, having been cut off from all revenue, we are facing the prospect of having no financial means to continue operating the site and paying our staff (not to mention covering our legal fees) in the meanwhile,” the post reads.
Both Proper Media and MikkelsonÂ have sued each other in California. Although Proper Media does not have editorial control, Mikkelsion said he is blockedÂ from hiring another vendor toÂ modify, developÂ orÂ placeÂ advertising on the site.
A lawyer for Proper Media, Karl Kronenberger, told The New York Times that Mikkelson can’t cancel the company’s contract with Snopes without approval from the board of the Bardav, the company that technicallyÂ owns the website.
Exactly how many membersÂ Proper Media has on Bardav’s board is a matter of dispute, according toÂ the lawsuits.Â
Kronenberger also told The New York Times that Proper Media was not withholding any advertising revenue.Â
Since the early days of the Internet, SnopesÂ has made a name for itself by debunking conspiracy theories, urban myths and…