Snopes, the fact-checking website, has had to launch a GoFundMe page to keep operating, according to an article in PC Mag. Snopes has been forced to ask readers and supporters for money because they are not receiving any advertising revenue. The lack of advertising revenue is caused by a complicated legal dispute that stems from the divorce of David and Barbara Mikkelson, who jointly owned Snopes while they were married.
In 2015, the Mikkelsons hired Proper Media to manage advertising sales and ad placement on Snopes. The contract also called for Proper Media to manage advertising revenue. The Mikkelsons owned Snopes through a company by the name of Bardav Inc. When they divorced in 2016, David and Barbara each received 50 percent of Bardav. Barbara wanted to sell her stake to Proper Media, but the agreement splitting the company prevented her from selling her share to a company. She overcame this obstacle by selling shares to executives at Proper Media individually.
In March of 2017, David Mikkelson gave Proper Media 60 days notice that he planned to terminate Bardav’s contract with Proper Media. In May, he requested “certain information” from Proper Media, which Proper Media did not provide to him. Proper Media filed suit against David soon after, contending that he and Vincent Green – one of the Proper Media executives who had purchased a small stake in Bardav from Barbara – had blocked other Proper Media executives from access to the content management system. The suit also alleged that David Mikkelson and Vincent Green stole $10,000 worth of computer equipment from Proper Media. Bardav filed a counter-suit against Proper Media.
While the litigation is pending, Proper Media is withholding advertising revenue generated by the Snopes website. Snopes started the GoFundMe campaign to pay staff and cover other operating expenses. They requested half a million dollars. Contributors helped them to exceed that goal.