You’ve undoubtedly seen one recently. Maybe you’ve even done it yourself.
Since Monday 31 October, Facebook has been awash with people “checking in” at Standing Rock Indian Reservation. It follows a viral Facebook post that claimed Morton County police were targeting Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protestors through social media.
This has caused check-ins on the Standing Rock Facebook page to explode. More than half a million people have now liked the page, and at least 55,000 people have given the location they “visited” a 5-star rating. The idea is to confuse police from targeting the real protestors by overwhelming the Morton County Sheriff Department with fake check-ins.
Unfortunately the viral post isn’t actually true. In a lot of ways.
Firstly, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department have released a statement on Facebook denying they were targeting protestors through check-ins.
The Sheriff’s Department also said that the Facebook metrics used for checking in “have no intelligence value to them“. Furthermore, even if police really were tracking protestors using Facebook check-ins, they would easily be able to tell the fake ones from the real ones based on a phone’s physical geolocation. However, DAPL protestors have alleged that law enforcement have treated them inhumanely, with UN representatives set to investigate the matter further.
The Sacred Stone Camp has also confirmed that they did not start the check-in campaign, though they welcome the awareness it brought. They also urged supporters to take physical action if they really wanted to assist with their movement.
So while “checking in” might raise awareness of the DAPL protests, you’re certainly not “sticking it to to the man” or disrupting police activity.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe (as well as other indigenous and non-indigenous people) have been protesting the construction of the DAPL since April this year. While the pipeline developers, Energy Transfer’s, claim the pipeline will bring economic benefits and reduce the United States’ reliance on imported oil, the Standing Rock Sioux say that the pipeline will endanger the water supply for their tribe, as well as the 8 million people living downstream of the Missouri river. The proposed pipeline will also impact on the sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and those of other indigenous nations.
You can learn more about the DAPL protests and how you can help by visiting their website.