By now, you’ve probably seen some of your Facebook friends “checking in” to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Most of the people using the social media site’s location feature to tag themselves at the Fort Yates, N.D., reservation aren’t actually there, though.
Instead, they’re showing support for protesters in North Dakota who hope to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.8 billion project meant to carry Bakken oil patch crude across four states to a hub at Patoka, Ill. About 900,000 had checked in to Standing Rock by Monday afternoon, The Guardian reported.
Checking in from somewhere that isn’t Standing Rock, is designed to confuse members of law enforcement. In many versions of the post, supporters are saying that officers are using Facebook’s check-in feature to monitor traffic in and out of the massive protest camp.
But does checking in from Sioux Falls, Los Angeles or Madrid actually disrupt police?
Authorities in North Dakota say no.
“The Morton County Sheriff’s Department is not and does not follow Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location,” spokeswoman Donnell Hushka wrote in email. “This claim / rumor is absolutely false.”
Deputies "have no interest in it that information," she said.
However, the department has asked at least one out-of-state agency, the Ohio Highway Patrol, for extra manpower; 37 troopers left the state Saturday to lend a hand as part of an agreement called the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
Ohio made a similar call for help during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where about two dozen states' law enforcement agencies were represented.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe spokeswoman Sue Evans said the Facebook check-ins didn’t come from the tribe, but “grew organically,” in part because of a mistrust of the sheriff’s office.
After the arrest of at least 141 people who had set up camp on private land last week, Evans said Standing Rock supporters were concerned that deputies would use social media to target them as they came and went.
“People don’t trust anything that they see coming out of the sheriff’s office because of all the abuses by law enforcement,” Evans said.
While the tribe wasn’t behind the viral posting, Evans said members have been heartened by the outpouring of social media support. The hashtags #standwithstandingrock and #nodapl were trending for months before the check-ins began.
“I think what people really want to say is that they stand with Standing Rock,” Evans said.
In Cincinnati, a demonstration is planned Wednesday morning in front of City Hall to protest sending Ohio troopers to North Dakota. A Friday morning protest in front of the Ohio Statehouse also is planned.
Evans urged pipeline opponents to write North Dakota’s congressional delegation and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple to ask them to halt construction on the pipeline and to put an end to what Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault called “acts of violence against innocent, prayerful people.”
The tribe also maintains a website with links to a donations page and an anti-pipeline petition.
The Obama administration halted construction of a plan to bore beneath Lake Oahe, a part of the project approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this Spring.
Meanwhile, pipeline supporters have urged the administration to lift the temporary construction ban.