the disassociated press

Dear Internet,

It is April 19th. #watertown is still in motion.

Last night we had far better tools than the big news agencies. We had far more reporters on the ground. We had far greater mobility than they had.  We published instantly from 1000 viewpoints in real time and no news agency anywhere can do better than that. We had millions of fact checkers working till beyond sunrise. With all that going for us, couldn’t we create a far clearer picture than what we see in the news?

Did we?

In recent events, there have been so many incredible examples of journalistic responsibility, clarity, and plain good sense….. from ordinary people looking out their windows. But the noise of misinformation is still pretty staggering.

Let’s do better.

Here’s what we’re proposing.

The short version: when sharing information on Twitter, Reddit, or other at-a-glance citizen news sources, use the following conventions to help lessen the social media fog of war.

Citizen Observer Tagging Conventions 1.0

#UC  - Unconfirmed / Needs Verification

Observers are encouraged to post unconfirmed reports. Tagging as UC invites the community to get more information. Tagging as UC prevents people from re-posting false info at face-value.

#C - Confirmed

Community has found multiple trustworthy sources for this information and are confident it is at least accurately reported. We should probably avoid confirming our own reports. If we KNOW from personal account a report is true, it should be tagged #FP.

#FP - First Person Account

Used if I am physically witnessing and posting information about an event in progress.

#CN - Citation Needed

Borrowing from the wisdom of wikipedia, #CN requests clarification as to where info is coming from. This tag is a request to the community to help confirm. Observers should avoid posting confirmed results without getting support from the community.

#DP - Disproven

Use in cases of entities spreading bad information, e.g. fake Twitter account. Also encompasses reports that have been retracted.


#CN Hearing reports of an incident in Boston. via:


  • Avoid reposting/retweeting unconfirmed reports without seeking confirmation.
  • Avoid tagging something as “Confirmed” without community support. Let’s look out for the big picture by backing each other up.
  • When in doubt, tag as #UC and let the community pick up the thread. People are sitting here on Reddit/Twitter/etc. eager to help compile good information. #UC invites them to research specific questions.
  • Don’t be afraid to reply to a stranger with #CN. We should consider NOTHING CONFIRMED unless corroborated from as many sources as possible. This does not mean “100 tweeters said this is true so it probably is”. That does NOT mean “I saw it on CNN.” We should not be afraid to demand #CN from even top news agencies. This is how we all do a better job.

The goal

We hope that if universal tagging of this kind is widely used, we can all contribute more easily, more meaningfully, and more accurately as we work to make sense of breaking news.

Help us think this through!

We offer this site as a place to begin the conversation. If you wish to help shape these conventions, join the conversation. If this resonates with you, please use these conventions and share them with others. Send people here to get involved.

Obviously, in 2 hours the two people sitting in this room have not created the perfect convention, or its usage. We very much hope you will add your insight, ideas, and criticisms to this discussion.