The CEO of fact-checking site Snopes was caught plagiarising dozens of articles
- Snopes CEO and cofounder David Mikkelson plagiarised dozens of stories, BuzzFeed reports.
- Mikkelson was also writing plagiarised Snopes content under a pseudonym: "Jeff Zarronandia."
- He isn't stepping down as Snopes CEO, but did issue an apology.
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Snopes, the website that advertises itself as, "the internet's definitive fact-checking resource," is facing a major plagiarism scandal: The site's CEO and cofounder, David Mikkelson, just admitted to plagiarising dozens of Snopes articles.
That's according to a BuzzFeed News investigation that first discovered the plagiarised works. When Snopes investigated, it found a whopping 54 pieces in total that included plagiarism. That investigation remains ongoing, according to the company.
"Plagiarism undermines our mission and values, full stop," Snopes executives said in a statement. "It has no place in any context within this organisation.
To that end, Mikkelson's publishing rights have been revoked. He remains a 50% shareholder and the company's CEO.
"I engaged in multiple serious copyright violations of content that Snopes didn't have rights to use, Mikkelson said in a statement. "There is no excuse for my serious lapses in judgement. I am sorry."
The plagiarised pieces were taken from major news outlets like The Guardian, and published under at least three separate bylines. Mikkelson's own name was tied to some, as was the general "Snopes Staff" byline and a pseudonym Mikkelson set up under the byline Jeff Zarronandia.
Journalists rarely publish under pseudonyms, and the practice is often reserved for journalists operating in a dangerous situation where their identity needs to be protected.
In the case of Mikkelson, the pseudonym was used, "to write about topics he knew would get him hate mail under that assumed name," a former managing editor of Snopes, Brooke Binkowski, told BuzzFeed News. "Plus it made it appear he had more staff than he had."
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