Snopes “fact checkers” targets veteran-owned company, gets destroyed by Marine owner: ‘Politely f- off’

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The following contains editorial content which is the opinion of the author.

‘MERICA- We suppose you can call this a follow up to a follow up.

This is regarding a company called Fake Mask USA, which has fallen victim to the tech tyranny that is so pervasive, in particular against conservative-oriented companies or those which do not comply with the desired (Democrat) narrative.

The co-founder of Fake Mask USA contacted us and advised us that he received correspondence from a “reporter” from Snopes, the so-called “fact-checking”site which now apparently also reports the news.

We recently published a story about Snopes whereby the co-founder was busted writing dozens of plagiarized articles. We will reference that article below.

The reporter, Jordan Liles advised he was looking to “publish a story about how Facebook is allowing the promotion of fake masks for children in schools,” with “one of the most mentioned websites” being “Fake Mask USA.”

Liles alleged that according to posts in Facebook groups, Fake Mask USA’s “Double Incognito” mask in size XS has been purchased by parents to be used by their kids in schools.

Liles then went through a series of questions as follows:

  1. “Are you able to quantify how many masks have been sold by Fake Mask USA since the company’s beginning?
  2. What specifically prompted Paypal, Vimeo, and Facebook to permanently suspend your accounts/pages?
  3. What makes Fake Mask USA’s masks “fake”? We saw your site FAQ which said: “Our masks do not stop the spread of COVID-19 and will not protect you from it either.”
  4. At a time when COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are rising, and children are returning to school (and some children’s hospitals are overwhelmed), it would appear that fake masks would only cause these numbers to go higher. Last week the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that 1 in 4 COVID cases are now in children: [cites a website from FOX 29].

    Further, over the last 30 days, young children have died of COVID-19 in California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, among other states. Do you have concerns with selling products that fit young children, such as the “Double Incognito” size XS mask, a product that could fool other students, teachers, and school staff into believing it is an effective face covering?

We’re currently looking at a deadline of Thursday, Sept. 16 at 12:00 p.m. Pacific time.”

Fake Mask USA’s response was epic:

“Dear Ma’am,

Please see our below official statement.

Fake Mask USA is a law abiding, veteran owned small business.

We are the champions of American freedom—we believe in the rights & freedom of the American people, that we have served & continue to serve as veterans.

We (Fake Mask USA) ask that you (& all political elites) politely fuck off, & allow us to operate our business in peace—UNCENCORED <sp>–on American soil.

We will never apologize for helping Americans breathe.

-Fake Mask USA

www.Fake Mask USA2.com

Kudos to Fake Mask USA.

Clearly Snopes is approaching this from the standpoint of trying to throw this company under the bus.

With questions being raised far and wide about the efficacy of masks, especially in kids where statistically they have a 99.777% survival rate from COVID, this company is merely filling a niche.

By marketing this mask,  Fake Mask USA makes Nazis feel good as they virtue signal, while parents are protecting their kids from being made ill by wearing bacteria laden masks. Good idea all the way around.

Below is our original reporting on Fake Mask USA and after that our report on Snopes using plagiarized material.

We told you about a company called Fake Mask USA which fell victim to the tech tyrants, in this case PayPal.

Our original reporting can be found below, but long story short is Fake Mask USA had some $90,0000 in company assets that they had no means of recovering. 

This seems to be the way these companies do business, with them taking punitive action and for those punished having no means to fight back. For example, Facebook is famous for suspending accounts of people who violate their “terms of service.”

The problem is those terms of service are subjective, and those punished usually fall along a more conservative mindset. Simply put, you cannot speak to a human being in order to fight back. 

We are happy to report that according to Chet Peters, one of the co-founders, PayPal has indeed made the company whole and released all outstanding funds.

We would like to think that perhaps Law Enforcement Today’s story outlining the company’s issues had something to do with it, but who knows? We are just happy the company has been made whole. 

Sadly, that isn’t the only problems facing Fake Mask USA. Unfortunately, as often happens especially to companies that go against the preferred narrative, the company fell victim to the Twitter mob, at least temporarily. 

We spoke to Chet Peters who told us that they were shut down by Shopify for “violating their terms of service.”

After going to another site, BigCommerce and after receiving assurances that they would have no problems with the content of what they were selling, they believed everything would be alright. 

Unfortunately, a company called ENOM, a web hosting service did have issues with Fake Mask USA and basically shut down their BigCommerce website.

They gave no forewarning, no specifics on why the website was shut down. As with PayPal, there isn’t a human being to talk to in order to get answers. 

Below are screenshots of the correspondence they received:

BigCommerce correspondence- used with permissionBigCommerce notification of website shutdown-used w/permission

Peters told us that the only notification they received was when customers began to contact them notifying that their website appeared to be down. As noted, they received no notification warning them this was going to happen until they received the above correspondence afterward. This action was taken smack dab in the middle of the business day. 

The company has found a new web hosting service and now has activated another page with the website www.Fake Mask USA2.com 

Fake Mask USA is just another company that pokes fun at the narrative taking place across the US and much of the once free world. Unfortunately, having a sense of humor is no longer in vogue. 

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

For our original report, please continue reading: 

The following contains editorial content written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today. 

One thing we’ve learned about the tech tyrants…they have ZERO sense of humor. While the ability to market so-called “fake” items…otherwise known as novelty items has been going on forever (think Spencer Gifts), certain novelty items are apparently off limits.

A company called “Fake Mask USA” was marketing facemasks online marketed as:

“Guess what? Much like all other cloth face masks, these masks to nothing at all—except get you into schools, and work, and airplanes, and let you breathe.”

Pretty amusing actually.

Now the company tells Law Enforcement Today that PayPal, the online payment service, shut down their ability to collect payments.

Worse yet, PayPal is holding some $90,000 of the company’s funds, with communication from the company claiming that $2,500 is available out of that amount. The only problem is the “available” money is untouchable.

Correspondence from PayPal (screenshot below) claimed that due to a review of “account activity,” they determined the company to be in “violation of PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy.”

The correspondence then tells the company that they need to remove all references to PayPal from their website and remove it as a payment option.

PayPal correspondence seizing assets-Screenshot used w/ permission

This is the second time a company trying to monetize the nonsense that is the coronavirus has been targeted by big tech tyrants.

Several months ago, Amazon Pay shut down “American Freedom Passports” and also withheld their funds, this despite the fact the company made it clear that the passports were being offered as a tongue-in-cheek product.

Time was satirical or novelty items were allowed for sale. Now in the world of “cancel culture” and a total lack of people to have a sense of humor, that is no longer allowed. And that is a shame. 

Among the products offered by Fake Mask USA is one called the “Real/Fake Incognito Gaiter”:

“The gaiter is constructed with our “incognito” breathable mesh on one half, and a denser, stretchable micro-fiber material on the other half. This patent pending design allows the wearer to change the face covering style from a fake to real mask material simply by rotating the gaiter 180 degrees.

“Guess what? Cloth masks don’t do anything. Neither does ½ of this masterpiece.

“The Real/Fake Gaiter is the most breathable, comfortable face covering on the market! This version provides two incredibly breathable sides.

  1. It covers your face
  2. Both sides are technically a mask—one side is just mesh.”

Then there is the “Double Incognito Fake Mask:

“Guess what? Cloth masks don’t do anything. Neither does this masterpiece. But at least you can breathe now.

“The Double Incognito Face Mask is the 3rd most breathable (Offensively Fake #1, & Incognito #2), comfortable face covering on the market! This version provides incredible breathability while still giving the illusion that it is a real mask. The best for ultra Karen environments such as airplanes, banks, PTA meetings, etc.

  1. It covers your face
  2. Technically it is a mask

They also have several other models available. You really need to give these guys credit…the important thing about developing a product is finding a need and filling it.

The American people are desperately trying to find something which can fend off the mask Nazis while still being allowed to breathe good old fresh air. We think this is a genius idea! Unfortunately, the Nazis at PayPal don’t feel the same way.

Law Enforcement Today spoke with one of the co-founders of the company, Chet Peters who said they have been selling the masks since last November.

He said they had no issues at all with the exception of one time when there was a 21-day hold due to “fulfillment assurance.” In other words, the company had, according to Peters received a significant amount of orders and PayPal wanted to make sure they could fulfill the orders. 

Peters said that the company does use another payment fulfillment service called “Stripe,” however PayPal is by far the largest such site. 

Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about this fiasco is that PayPal is apparently the “arbiter” of damages. In other words, they decide how much of the company’s money to confiscate as so-called “damages.” 

Peters also called our attention to a lawsuit filed against PayPal by Chris Moneymaker, the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion who is also a longtime poker professional. Moneymaker used PayPal to hold money for friends in a fantasy sports league. As happened with Peters, PayPal also seized his money. 

According to Legal US PokerSites, Eric Bensamochan, Moneymaker’s attorney noticed an intent to file a class action lawsuit against PayPal.

Since that time, dozens of people have contacted Bensamochan Law Firm alleging that PayPal had likewise seized their funds for a series of alleged “violations.”

One of the amounts seized was $550,000, all seized by PayPal with nary an explanation and no chance to argue their case. Peters told us there isn’t even anyone to contact to contest the seizure. 

According to Moneymaker, he and 11 of his friends created a 12-member fantasy sports league for the 2020 NFL season. Each person put up $1,000 prior to the season, which was placed in a PayPal account held by Moneymaker.

No fees were charged by him to league participants…he only agreed to hold the money until the end of the NFL season. 

Last November, PayPal placed a hold on the account for violating its “User Agreement.” Moneymaker said that after six months of hearing nothing from PayPal, he sought to resolve the matter, requesting the money be returned to each of the 11 individuals who had sent the money to him via PayPal.

The tech tyrant said “no,” and refused to return the money, thereby confiscating it. 

By way of information, PayPal’s User Agreement is 68 pages long. There is an accompanying Acceptable Use Policy which is only two pages long, however details activities prohibited by PayPal. 

The case was scheduled to be filed in July. Anyone wishing to add on to the lawsuit can contact the law firm at this email, although as of publication it may be too late to add on. 

Meanwhile, earlier this year Law Enforcement Today reported on the American Freedom Passports. For more on that, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

As the Biden administration works with private companies to develop a COVID-19 “vaccine passport,” one startup is taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to the potential requirement of proof of vaccine, and it is offering a patriotic faux “passport” for Americans who identify as vaccinated.

According to the Washington Post, the Biden White House has been coordinating efforts of government agencies and private companies to develop a vaccine passport system that is supposedly to assist in returning the country to “normalcy.”

The passports are reportedly expected to be free to consumers and in the form of a smartphone application or a printable version, complete with a scannable code to enable access to areas requiring it.

The Post reports that there are at least 17 proposed passport initiatives.

The anticipated requirement to prove vaccinated status has, of course, been a hotly contested issue, with many seeing vaccine passports as an intrusive onslaught against freedoms Americans enjoy.

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida and Governor Greg Abbott of Texas have both issued orders banning businesses from requiring proof of vaccination. 

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has also openly declared his opposition to the passports, as has South Dakota Governor Kristi NoemArkansas, Montana, and Ohio are anticipated to take a similar stance.

Although Dr. Anthony Fauci has recently indicated that the federal government will not be a “leading element” in the arena of the vaccine passport, some areas have already proceeded in accordance with the work the Biden administration has been coordinating, and have implemented vaccine passports.

According to CBS News, New York has a voluntary vaccine passport program that uses a phone app to verify vaccination status.  The app shares vaccination information via scan when the user enters a business requiring a vaccine.

In addition, CBS also reports that California will soon be implementing a new policy wherein event venues are permitted to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for entry.

One company’s answer to this apparent overreach into private medical information and the squelching of individual freedoms has been to create a faux COVID-19 vaccination “passport,” complete with messaging about freedom and patriotism.

American Freedom Passport offers on their website a customized vaccination “passport” card and a vaccination “passport” book.

The website clearly notes that these are “tongue-in-cheek” offerings, adding:

“This is not meant to actually try and misrepresent yourself as having been vaccinated for COVID-19.  Let’s not be confused with those people.  

“They are the people who wear masks alone in their Prius and wear condoms alone in bed at night.”

Calling on potential buyers to “‘identify’” as being vaccinated today and “let’s save America,” the website points out that those who wish to identify as having received the vaccine should be able to do so, in accordance with the logic of today.

The site goes on to say:

“Oh, you want to stick me with a needle? I’ll tell you where to “stick it”.

“Here’s the thing. They all screamed “my body, my choice” – so let’s make a choice. 

“If you can put on a wig and pretend to be a woman, we can carry this “passport” and pretend to be vaccinated.”

The website further declares:

“This is a passport for those of us who “identify” as being vaccinated. For those of us who are sick and tired of being told what to do with our bodies. 

“And for the growing number of Americans who are just… done.”

American Freedom Passport takes additional jabs at illogic in the pro forced masking, pro vaccine requirement culture, saying:

“Let’s open America back up!

“Sick of being told small businesses are super spreaders but big box stores are safe? 

“That church is dangerous but liquor stores aren’t? 

“That the ‘rona won’t bite if you’re eating at a restaurant? 

“Get your ‘passport!’”

The website’s home page continues:

“Time to end the confusion!

“Confused on how you’ll get the ‘rona walking the wrong way down a grocery store aisle?

“Wondering where the flu went? 

“Not sure where common sense and logic went? 

“The ‘passport’ makes the problems disappear.”

One of the company’s offerings is a Customized Vaccination “Passport” Card featuring a spot for the recipient’s name.  It lists nationality as “Unapologetically American,” race as “Human,” and sex as “There Are Only Two.”  

Screen Shot, www.americanfreedompassport.com

Patriotic images are also featured, including Mount Rushmore with former President Trump’s face added, “because that’s where it belongs.”  

“Evil triumphs when good men do nothing,” reads the caption for the Mount Rushmore image.

The other item is a Vaccination “Passport” Book, which features the same imagery along with additional patriotic pictures.

The inside of the “passport” book displays the same demographic information as the card, along with spots for stamps, the preamble to the United States Constitution, and a “Green Eggs and Ham”-inspired “letter” from a “doctor” called “Uncle Sam I Yam,” which includes verses like:

“You do not even have to ask

“I do not want to wear a mask….

“I do not want to live in fear

“Last I checked there’s freedom here…

“‘My body, my choice,’ the liberals told us

“Except if we’re scared they also then told us…

“And so as the ‘doctor’ I’m simply here to say

“This passport carrier identifies as vaccinated today….

“-Dr. Zeus (Earned ‘medical’ and ‘law’ degrees on Facebook like millions of other know-it-alls.)”

Screen Shot, www.americanfreedompassport.com

The company’s owner, who wishes to remain anonymous at this time, told us:

“The letter in the passport plays off the insane cancel culture that we are facing in America right now.  

“The irony of course is that we knew it would trigger the cancel culture crowd to come for us – and we are ready for the fight.”

Not surprisingly, this particular startup venture has indeed faced a variety of responses to its offerings, from support to violent threats.

The popularity of the vaccine “passports” was almost immediately evident, as approximately two thousand orders were received on the day of the American Freedom Passport website’s launch.

However, the naysayers also came out in force, with one writing:

“Anyone who doesn’t believe we should all be vaccinated is an anarchist and enemy of the state and should be treated as a domestic terrorist.”

Another took up the “all cops are bad” narrative, stating:

“You must be a cop.  Obviously you believe in killing innocent people.”

One even wished death upon the owner, saying:

“You should be hung on public television for trying to infect America.”

The owner employs veterans and law enforcement at his various companies, where he “saw an opportunity to keep giving back while filling a need here in America.”

As for his plans for the proceeds earned from selling the “passports,” the owner told us:

“What am I going to do with the money?

“Use it to buy guns and shake hands with people and travel the country talking about Jesus.”

For more on Snopes’ plagiarizing issues, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

Most people know that the so-called “fact-checking” site Snopes is a joke.

The fact that Snopes used to serve as a fact-checking arm for Fakebook isn’t surprising. Now we’re finding out that Snopes is a bigger joke than we thought.

According to the New York Post, the co-founder of the so-called “fact-checking” site has been exposed as a plagiarist, a BuzzFeed News investigation discovered.

BuzzFeed discovered that between 2015 and 2019, David Mikkelson, the co-founder of Snopes wrote and published dozens of articles which contained content plagiarized from news outlets, including the Guardian and the Los Angeles Times.

BuzzFeed reached out to Snopes, which conducted an internal review. It was confirmed that under a pseudonym, the Snopes byline and under his own name, Mikkelson had written and published some 54 articles that contained pirated content.

The articles included topics such as same-sex marriage licenses, as well as the death of musician David Bowie.

The Bowie article looked to be a combination of paragraphs from both the Los Angeles Times and E! Online, which BuzzFeed said used “near-identical phrasing and sequencing.”

As a result of the internal probe, the company’s VP of Editorial and Managing Editor Doreen Marchionni suspended Mikkelson from his editorial duties pending “a comprehensive internal investigation.” Mikkelson retains his position as an officer of the company, as well as a 50% shareholder.

Mikkelson launched the so-called fact-checking site in 1995, portraying the company to be “the internet’s definitive fact-checking site.”

In a statement Friday, Marchionni apologized for Mikkelson’s transgressions.

“Let us be clear. Plagiarism undermines our mission and values, full stop,” she said. “It has no place in any context within this organization.”

In response to BuzzFeed’s investigation, Mikkelson said, “There is no excuse for my [54] serious lapses in judgment. I’m sorry.”

According to BuzzFeed’s investigation and the Post’s report, “Mikkelson’s Snopes posts contained phrasing—even entire paragraphs—lifted from outlets such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the LA Times and the BBC between 2015 and 2019,” which were often published under the byline “Snopes staff” or while he used the pseudonym, Jeff Zarronandia.

BuzzFeed wrote:

“’Zarronandia’ was illustriously described in his Snopes bio as a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and someone talented at ‘mule-skinning,’ whose seemingly informed stories on everything from arts and culture to national politics had in the past drawn ridicule from the likes of former Donald Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone.”

Mikkelson’s use of the Zarronandia byline first appeared in an article from 2015, seemingly completely plagiarized with the exception of a couple of words, relative to a Reuters bulletin regarding a Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

The Post reported that Snopes’ editorial staff also weighed in on Mikkelson’s plagiarism, issuing a statement in which they said they “strongly condemn these poor journalistic practices,” while adding that they “work hard every day to uphold the highest possible journalistic and ethical standards.”

Snopes Chief Operating Officer Vinny Green released a statement in which he said:

“Our internal research so far has found a total of 54 stories Mikkelson published that used appropriated material, including all of the stories BuzzFeed shared with us.” Marchionni also signed the statement.

Snopes told BuzzFeed that all of the plagiarized content was being retracted, and advertising was disabled on all of them; an editor’s note will also be appended on each story.

According to the New York Post, Snopes had retracted 60 articles while disabling advertisements on each, as reported in the New York Times and will retract additional articles as they conduct their internal review; some 140 articles have already been flagged by the company for review.

An example of Mikkelson’s handiwork was a pilfered story written by NBC News reporter Jon Schuppe, posted on Snopes.com under Mikkelson’s personal byline:

“Muhammad Ali, the silver-tongued boxer and civil rights champion who famously proclaimed himself ‘The Greatest’ and then spent a lifetime living up to the billing is dead.”

In attempting to justify his conduct, Mikkelson told BuzzFeed:

“I didn’t come from a journalism background. I wasn’t used to doing news aggregation. A number of times I crossed the line to where it was copyright infringement. I own that.”

Regarding his pseudonym, Mikkelson claims it was dreamed up as a “stress-relief thing” during the contentious 2016 presidential election, where some considered fact-checking an “ethical beacon for some, and a political bane to others.”

“Let’s have some fun and watch these people vent their spleen inventing reasons why this nonexistent persona is based,” he said.

Insiders at Snopes, BuzzFeed said that Mikkelson’s goal was more so intended to drive traffic to the website, with being among the first sites to share trending news headlines a priority.

“He would instruct [writers] to copy text from other sites, post them verbatim so that it looked like we were fact and could scoop up traffic, and then change the story in real time,” according to Snopes’ former managing editor Brooke Binkowski to BuzzFeed. “I hated it and wouldn’t tell any of the staff to do it, but he did it all the time.”

Binkowski also told BuzzFeed that Mikkelson would “write about topics he knew would get him hate mail under that assumed name. Plus it made it appear he had more staff than he had.”

Mikkelson co-founded the company with his ex-wife, Barbara Hamel in 2015. In the midst of a messy divorce, Hamel’s share of the company was sold to tech firm Proper Media. That company filed a lawsuit against Mikkelson in 2017, alleging mismanagement of Snopes’ finances. This led to Mikkelson launching a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the website.

 BuzzFeed notes that despite Snopes claiming on its website about its practices that it “follows all industry guidelines for transparency in reporting,” the fact that Mikkelson was writing under an assumed name isn’t disclosed anywhere on the site.

Snopes goes on to say that “…we think being transparent with readers is the coolest.” In another display of “transparency,” Mikkelson’s pseudonym Zarronandia has been removed from his bylines and replaced with “Snopes staff.”

BuzzFeed noted that out of the articles they found which was copied without attribution, six of them were published under Zarronandia’s byline, three under Mikkelson’s own, and the rest under “Snopes staff.”

According to Edward Wasserman, professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, an ethics specialist, using other people’s work “must be conducted subject to rules of attribution, so that the reader isn’t misled into crediting the current writer with finding the information first, which is an important claim to credibility and proficiency,” BuzzFeed said.

BuzzFeed noted that Mikkelson’s posts via email and Slack messages indicated plagiarism was in his DNA. They noted one Slack message from January 206 in which Mikkelson outlined his method of copying and then quickly turning articles, then rewriting them after they were published:

“Usually when a hot real news story breaks (such as a celebrity death), I just find a wire service or other news story about it and publish it on the site verbatim to quickly get a page up. Once that’s done, then I quickly start editing the page to reword it and add material from other sources to make it not plagiarized,” he wrote.

Going further, emails written in 2014 and 2015 told Snopes staff to “pop over to one of our competitor sites (urbanlegends.com or hoaxslayer.com), pick something out that they’ve recently published that we haven’t covered,” and “rewrite it just enough to avoid copyright infringement.”

A former Snopes writer was interviewed by BuzzFeed for the story and said she never followed Mikkelson’s directives to copy content.

“I remember explaining that we didn’t need to ‘rewrite’ because we’d always done this stuff quickly,” said Kim LaCapria, now with Truth or Fiction. “He just didn’t seem to understand that some people didn’t plagiarize.”

The revelations about Mikkelson confirm what many on the right new all along. Snopes was, is, and ever shall be a sad joke.

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