Does this look familiar to you? Are you one of the 130,000 people at Standing Rock Reservaton in Cannon Ball, ND?
By most estimates, probably not, but that hasn’t stopped possibly you and a good chunk of your Facebook friends from checking-in at Standing Rock today.
If you’re one of the countless people who were wondering why all of your friends were suddenly in North Dakota, they're not. The check-in is part of a viral social media campaign to confuse the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, who is allegedly using Facebook geotags to round up protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline or DAPL. In addition to the check-ins, a handy explainer has been going around Facebook as well. Most of them read something like this:
This is all done in service of standing in solidarity with the protestors of the controversial pipeline, which cost billions of dollars and aims to connect the Bakken and Three Forks oil pipelines, which, altogether, could transport nearly 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day. However, among other things, DAPL will cut through Sioux Native American reservations.
“The Standing Rock Sioux opposes the pipeline's construction near the Sioux reservation on the grounds that it threatens their public health and welfare, water supply and cultural resources,” writes Aaron Sidder of Smithsonian. “What began as a small protest camp in April on the Standing Rock reservation has since morphed into an encampment with over 1,000 people. Over the past few months, the Sacred Stone Camp, as it is now called, has been the site of a number of antagonistic face offs between protesters and the oil company.”
"The Standing Rock Sioux maintains that the government did not properly consult with them prior to shifting the pipeline’s route, and that the new crossing would entail destruction of sacred spots and old burial grounds."
There is still speculation, however, as to the validity of the Facebook campaign. According to Snopes, the Facebook post is still “Unproven,” so its affiliation to actual police activity is still unconfirmed.
We’ll have to wait and see if this form of protest is effective or not, or even if the Morton County Sheriff’s Department is using these Facebook check-ins to smoke out protesters. Until then, you’ll likely see more check-ins over the next day or so.