Snopes, the website famous for debunking internet myths and urban legends, will start charging for access next week based on a new automated payment model that allows money to be taken direct from the ISP account or PayPal account of anyone browsing the site.
‘For many years we have been giving advice to internet users for free, but it’s about time we started to monetize our service,’ said founder David Mikkelson today. ‘Sadly most people are still too eager to believe something a friend of a friend reposted on Facebook, rather than information that comes from a reputable myth database such as ours. Perhaps we’ve devalued our content by giving it away for free all these years. Maybe if people have to pay to be told that they’re wrong, perhaps then they’ll start to understand that their naivety is being exploited.’
Inevitably some internet users have reacted by claiming that the introduction of an ‘invisible paywall’ by Snopes is a hoax, but internet advocacy groups have verified the plans. ‘Many people have started posting links online to a Snopes page that claims that it is impossible for a website to charge a visitor’s credit card via their ISP without the customer knowing. This is of course false, and this Snopes page, like all others, will soon cost $4.95 to read.’
But for those unwilling to pay the new charges to have truths verified and falsehoods exposed, there is apparently a loophole. Federal internet laws mean that users who post as their Facebook status, in block capitals, ‘SNOPES TO CHARGE $4.95 A TIME’, will continue to be able to use the service free of charge in perpetuity.