“A clumsy mistake or an incompetent writer are insufficient explanations for publishing something like this when you position yourself as an unbiased, stalwart arbiter of truth and presume to wield the influence that comes along with that title,” he wrote.
In a recent newsletter, the Bee said a past Snopes fact-check had prompted Facebook, which was then in a fact-checking partnership with Snopes, to “threaten us with limitations and demonetization.” Facebook eventually acknowledged the mistake and said the Bee piece — about CNN buying industrial washing machines to “spin” news — “should not have been rated false in our system.”
Snopes pulled out of the Facebook partnership in February, but some critics of the recent fact-check have argued that Snopes’s actions could still affect the Bee’s Facebook presence, a suggestion Mr. Mikkelson disputes.
“We have absolutely no ability to demonetize, deplatform, blacklist anybody,” he said. “We have no means to stop anyone from publishing on a particular platform or to limit their reach.”
Snopes determines what to cover based on reader input via email, Facebook and Twitter as well as what’s trending on Google, social media and its own website searches. As a result, it often covers claims and satire that, to many, may seem obviously false or intentionally humorous.
“Some people just don’t get or are not very good at recognizing uses of sarcasm or irony or archness,” Mr. Mikkelson said.
In the Fox News appearance, Mr. Dillon, the Bee chief executive, seemed to acknowledge that.
“There’s people who aren’t familiar with us who are seeing our stuff,” he said. “So if they want to fact-check it, fine. You can rate it false, you can rate it satire, ideally, and just say ‘Hey, this came from the Bee, it’s obviously satire, they’re a well-known satire publication.’ That would be as far as it needs to go.”