Hundreds of thousands of people checked into the Standing Rock Indian Reservation Monday in wake of a now-viral Facebook post claiming that local authorities are using the social media network to monitor protesters.
It’s an accusation that the Morton County Sheriff’s Department fiercely denied, writing in a Facebook post:
“The Morton County Sheriff’s Department is not and does not follow Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location. This claim/rumor is absolutely false.”
The original post reads:
"The Morton County Sheriff's Department has been using Facebook check-ins to find out who is at Standing Rock in order to target them in attempts to disrupt the prayer camps. SO Water Protectors are calling on EVERYONE to check-in at Standing Rock, ND to overwhelm and confuse them. This is concrete action that can protect people putting their bodies and well-beings on the line that we can do without leaving our homes. Will you join me in Standing Rock?
If you're sharing your location at Standing Stock:
1) Make it public.
2) Make the clarification post SEPARATE, and limit post visibility to your friends only.
3) Don't clarify on your check-in post; privately message friends who say "stay safe!" to let them know what's up.
4) Copy/paste to share clarification messages (like this one) because making it public blows our cover.
5) Use an alternate name in clarification posts so that when they filter out / search those terms, your post is visible to the right people."
Fact-checking site Snopes.com says it reached out to the Sacred Stone Camp, which did not take credit for spreading the plea. A spokesperson did say that they believe police are using Facebook to monitor the protests.
The controversy at Standing Rock have gained significant traction both in the media and on social media in recent months. Demonstrators are gathering on the North Dakota reservation to protest the 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline.
The almost $4 billion project has been opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux. They say the pipeline could damage the tribe’s water supply, and that the federal government did not do its due diligence in getting their permission to go-ahead with the endeavor. Supporters of the oil company say the pipeline does not actually go into the reservation.
The pipeline is intended to bring almost 600,000 barrels of crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois – something opposed by environmental groups.
The protests boiled over last week, when more than 140 people were arrested as authorities clashed with protesters. Celebrities like Shailene Woodley and Mark Ruffalo have been among those who have supported the protests.
Thousands of gathered in North Dakota in hopes of stalling the project, and calling attention to the pipeline.