Fact-checking website Snopes.com has launched a fundraising campaign to help it stay afloat because it claims a business partner has been withholding advertising revenue.
Snopes, which is looking to raise $500,000, received $50,000 in the first few hours of the campaign.
In his plea for donations, Snopes co-founder David Mikkelson wrote that the website has been “cut off from our historic source of advertising income” and that the site is being held “hostage” by its partner, Proper Media.
Mikkelson told BuzzFeed the dispute with Proper Media means that Snopes currently has no advertising revenue coming in and has no other source of income.
“The purpose of the fundraiser is to raise money to continue operating while we have to deal with the legal issues,” he said.
At the heart of the fundraiser is a legal dispute sparked by the divorce of the site's founders, David and Barbara Mikkelson. The pair decided to end their marriage in 2014 and Barbara Mikkelson sold her half of the company to Proper Media in 2015.
Proper Media is a California-based company that helps publishers and advertisers monetize their sites. According to its website, the company works with web properties such as RawStory and Salon.
David Mikkelson said the dispute with Proper happened after he tried to terminate a contract with the company. But Proper Media alleges Mikkleson created the issue when he blocked it from accessing managerial accounts, such as payroll management.
The attorney representing Proper Media also denied that it had cut off ad revenue.
“I don’t think I’d call it withheld, this is the co-owner of the company who was making payroll payments to the company,” the attorney, Karl Kronenberger, told BuzzFeed News.
Kronenberger also said that as a part of the ongoing court litigation, Proper Media paid $100,000 in advertising revenue to Snopes's parent company last week.
The next court hearing for the lawsuit filed in the dispute is scheduled for next month.