April 20, 2024



Inside Snopes: the rise, fall, and rebirth of an internet icon

Fast Company


June 2, 2023

In the early ’90s, shortly before he helped think up Snopes, the first (and favorite) website for fact-checks, and way before he was banished from the very thing he’d helped build, David Mikkelson was quite a character on message boards. He wasn’t looking for love necessarily, but it found him nonetheless.

Mikkelson, a divorced computer programmer in California, met Barbara Hamel, a divorced bookkeeper in Canada, on Usenet, a precursor of sorts to Reddit, where the two lorded over a prolific channel called alt.folklore.urban. AFU acted like the site’s fact-checker for far-flung urban legends. If, for example, a rumor was circulating around the internet (and watercoolers and lunchrooms) about a cactus that disgorged scorpions, AFU’s job was to investigate.

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