Snopes CEO Admits 'Serious Lapses in Judgment' for Plagiarizing 50-Plus Articles

”There is no excuse,“ David Mikkelson, co-founder of the fact-checker site, says in a statement

CNN

David Mikkelson, the co-founder and CEO of Snopes, the well-known online fact-checker, has apologized and admitted to “serious lapses in judgement” for plagiarizing more than 50 articles.

“The results of our internal audit confirmed that I engaged in multiple serious copyright violations of content that Snopes didn’t have rights to use. There is no excuse for my serious lapses in judgement,” Mikkelson said in a statement.

He added, “I am sorry. I have given full authority to our managing editor, Doreen Marchionni, to take any measures needed to address these issues.”

Snopes retracted over 50 articles and has suspended its co-founder after looking into accusations of plagiarism against him. Mikkelson used a pseudonym, his own name and the Snopes byline to publish the pieces. He remains an officer and 50% stakeholder in the site.

After BuzzFeed News reached out to Snopes regarding instances of lifted sentences and phrases that appeared in articles on the site, the company said, “Let us be clear: Plagiarism undermines our mission and values, full stop. It has no place in any context within this organization. We invite readers to let us know here if they find any other examples of plagiarized content so that we can apply the same treatment as above.”

BuzzFeed’s investigation found plagiarism from the Guardian and Los Angeles Times. The articles in question, Snopes said, were usually filed under “breaking” or “odd” sections of the site and included topics like same-sex marriage licenses and the death of David Bowie.

Read Mikkelson’s full statement below:

The results of our internal audit confirmed that I engaged in multiple serious copyright violations of content that Snopes didn’t have rights to use. There is no excuse for my serious lapses in judgement. I am sorry. I have given full authority to our managing editor, Doreen Marchionni, to take any measures needed to address these issues.

While I can’t change the past, I couldn’t be prouder of how Snopes has evolved since then. Snopes has grown beyond our roots as a “one-man band” website into a newsroom of dedicated, professional journalists who serve the public with trustworthy information. Thanks to their efforts, Snopes has published original reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent elections, Russian disinformation efforts and so much more. The last thing I ever wanted was to have my mistakes detract from their excellent work, and I’m doing everything I can to make it right.

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