Standing Rock: 1 million people ‘check in’ on Facebook to support Dakota pipeline protesters

The Guardian

More than 1 million people have checked in on Facebook to the Standing Rock Indian reservation in response to a viral post claiming that doing so would help protect activists in North Dakota protesting against an oil pipeline from police surveillance.

Members of more than 90 Native American nations have converged on Standing Rock in North Dakota since April to protest against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, saying it would jeopardize the tribe’s water supply and threaten sacred tribal sites.

Early on Monday, a Facebook post said that the Morton County sheriff’s department was using Facebook check-ins to target people at the protest camp.

“Water Protecters are calling on EVERYONE to check-in at Standing Rock, ND to overwhelm and confuse them,” the post said, going on to urge that everyone copy and share the text along with their check-in.

The origin of the text is not known. But it is spreading quickly; the number of check-ins at the Standing Rock reservation page went from 140,000 to more than 870,000 by Monday afternoon.

The pipeline’s proposed route, to transport fracked crude oil from the Bakken oilfield in North Dakota to a refinery near Chicago, would cross the Missouri river just upstream of the reservation.

Thousands have set up camp on land abutting the reservation, and hundreds have been arrested in numerous clashes with police. Protesters say they are ready for a “last stand” as the pipeline’s construction advances.

A spokesperson for the Morton County sheriff’s department told the Guardian in a statement that it was “not monitoring Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location for that matter. These rumors/claims are completely false.”

Lindsey Jones, from Wethersfield, Connecticut, was one of the million who remotely checked in on Facebook at the protest camp on Monday. She said that she was skeptical of the capability of checking-in on Facebook to disrupt police activity but added that, in general, “I guess it’s a nice gesture to show solidarity.”

“It’s definitely better than just sticking your head in the sand. And it does often lead to ‘real’ activism when people who don’t know anything about organizing or activism connect with people who do,” Jones said.

Kandi Mossett, a 37-year-old Native American activist who has been at the Standing Rock protest since August, said she was more concerned about ground surveillance than Facebook monitoring.

“I think they’re listening to us right now as we speak,” she said. “My concern is the invasion of privacy … It’s eerie and frankly quite irritating.”

Mossett, of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nation, said she thought the police could easily detect whether Facebook users were falsely checking in from other locations because of geotagging tools, but added that it was still nice to see so many mentions of Standing Rock on social media. “It gives people a way to support us.”

Marty Aranaydo, a member of the Muscogee tribe currently stationed at one of the camps, admitted he was initially confused when he thought random acquaintances from college had shown up in person.

“People want to be here, but sometimes life doesn’t allow it,” he added. “I take this as a visible way people can show solidarity. I don’t know if the strategy will work.”

Aranaydo pointed out that the direct monitoring – including the low-flying helicopters that frequently hover above the camps, sometimes shining bright spotlights in the middle of the night – was much more upsetting to him and other protesters.

“Their monitoring gives them a way to mess with us. They know it gets to us and can make things worse.”

Wiyaka Eagleman, a member of the Sicangu Lakota from Rosebud, South Dakota, who has been at the protest camp since it began in April, described the check-ins as “a form of support”, but added: “It would be nice to have those 550,000 people [really] here.”

3 thoughts on “Standing Rock: 1 million people ‘check in’ on Facebook to support Dakota pipeline protesters

  1. Cause it takes so much effort to click a fake button on a fake screen for fake reality. Most of
    Those people that click yes think they did something, someday even think they were “there”

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *