Thousands of protestors have been challenging the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline for months. The pipeline would stretch from North Dakota to Illinois and the opposition against the pipeline is being held by many protestors, including the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. They say that the pipeline is violating treaty land and is a threat to the environment and will destroy Native American burial sites, prayer sites, and artifacts.
Recently, the tensions have risen at the protest, as police have been using pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse protesters and have arrested over 140 people.
This protest has been going on for a while, and you’ve probably seen it in your mini-feed on multiple occasions, but this week something interesting happened. You may have noticed yesterday and today that lots of your friends have been checking into the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Cannon Ball, N.D. This isn’t because they all decided to take a trip to the site.
The reason this is happening is because they are hoping to confuse and overwhelm law enforcement officials who are reportedly trying to track protestors who are at the reservation through Facebook.
The Facebook message recommends that people do not put anything in the status that would make it possible for the police to distinguish between virtual protestors and those that are actually there in real-life. The users have been making the check-ins public and then posting “clarification” messages that are only visible to friends.
The Facebook message being shared reads:
“The Morton County Sherriff’s Department has been using Facebook check-ins to find out who is at Sanding Rock in order to target them in attempts to disrupt the prayer camps. So, Water Protectors are calling on EVERYONE to check in at Standing Rock, ND to overwhelm and confuse them. This is concrete action that can protect people putting their bodies and well-beings on the line that we can do without leaving our homes.
Will you join me in Standing Rock?
If you’re sharing your location at Standing Rock (which you should be doing)
1) make it public
2) make the clarification post separate, and so that only your friends can see it
3) don’t clarify on your check in, message friends who say “stay safe!” to let them know what’s up — the stay safe posts are more convincing / confusing for police
4) copy paste to share clarification messages (like this one) because making it public blows our cover
5) say “Randing Stock” in clarification posts so that when they filter out / search those terms, your post is visible to the right people
However, it seems that this Facebook movement is not actually distracting law enforcement in the manner in which it is being advertised. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department posted on Facebook yesterday saying, “The Morton County Sheriff’s Department is not and does not follow Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location. This claim / rumor is absolutely false.”
Although the Facebook posts have drawn attention to the issue, it does not seem that they are actually providing much assistance to the protestors on the site. Nonetheless, it is good to see empathy and solidarity from all around the nation.