Facebook ‘check-ins’ become flashpoint in Standing Rock fight

Facebook ‘check-ins’ become flashpoint in Standing Rock fight
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Supporters of the anti-pipeline activists in Standing Rock, N.D., are using Facebook’s "check-in" feature in an attempt to confuse law enforcement policing the protests.

A post accompanying many of the remote check-ins to the Standing Rock Native American reservation claims that the Morton County Sheriff’s office is using the Facebook feature to determine “who is at [Standing Rock] in order to target them in attempts to disrupt the prayer camps.”

Protesters from around the world have descended on Standing Rock to block the nearby construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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They believe that the $3.7 billion dollar pipeline, which would carry 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day, is a danger to the water supply for the Sioux who live on the reservation.

The post called on allies of the protests “to check-in at Standing Rock, ND to overwhelm and confuse [police]” on social media.

It is unclear if the calls to check-in at originated from protestors, and police deny monitoring protestors via Facebook. Users can check in to a location even if they are not physically there, but only public posts are visible to everyone.

“The Morton County Sheriff's Department is not monitoring nor collecting Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location for that matter,” spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Hill.  “Those rumors/claims are completely false.”

The rumor fact-checking website Snopes said that the post’s claims were “unproven.”

The Dickinson Press, a North Dakota newspaper, reported earlier in October that the Morton County Police Department had logged Facebook and Instagram posts from some protestors but did not specify the extent of this.