Standing Rock protest on Facebook has attracted over 1 million people in a show of support over allegations that police are tracking down activists on social media, The Guardian is reporting.
People all over the world have been responding to the Standing Rock protest on Facebook after a post went viral that doing so would stop organizers of the North Dakota protest from getting arrested.
According to CNN, the Standing Rock Indian Reservation has been a meeting point for more than 90 Native American nations since April. The native Indians are against the construction of a $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline, fearing that it would destroy sacred tribal sites and endanger tribe’s water supply.
A story from the NY Times confirmed that before the Standing Rock protest on Facebook, standoff with demonstrators and police had turned ugly with law enforcement officers using pepper spray and beanbags to scatter the crowds.
Despite this, thousands have remained defiant by setting up a protest camp in a bid to halt the advancement of the pipeline. The proposed route of construction is to transport fracked crude oil from North Dakota to a refinery in Chicago which would go through the Sioux Indian reservation. A move, which led to the Standing Rock protest on Facebook, in solidarity with native Americans asking for the preservation of their lands.
The Standing Rock protest on Facebook gathered momentum when an anonymous post alleged that the Morton County Sheriff’s department was using Facebook check-ins to identify and arrest people in the protest camp.
“Water Protecters are calling EVERYONE to check-in at Standing Rock, ND to overwhelm and confuse them.”
The post urged people to copy and share with all their social connections. The Standing Rock protest on Facebook post went viral and has since generated more than 1 million check-ins in less than 72 hours.
Lindsey Jones from Connecticut is one of the many people to have shown support for the Standing Rock protests on Facebook. Jones said she did not believe that the Morton County police department could round up activists from the social media platform, but revealed what she was doing was still “a nice show of 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.”
Kandi Mossett, a Native American activist who has been on the grounds since August challenging the construction of the North Dakota access pipeline long before the Standing Rock protest on Facebook, revealed it would be more impactful if people showed up at the reservation too and not only showed support on social media.
The 37-year-old shared Jones’ view about tracking activists on social media, adding that Standing Rock on Facebook protesters could easily be confirmed with geotagging tools. Mossett added that she was more concerned with ground surveillance.
“I think they’re listening to us right now as we speak. My concern is the invasion of privacy…it’s eerie and frankly quite irritating.”
"A status update is a far cry from real political action." Your Facebook check-in won't help North Dakota protestors https://t.co/dwW6NPHOiE— Jim MacMillan (@JimMacMillan) November 1, 2016
A spokesperson for the Morton County Sheriff’s department has responded about clamping down on Standing Rock protests on Facebook by calling the claims unfounded.
“The Morton County Sheriff’s department is not and does not follow Facebook check-in for the protest camp or any location. This claim/rumor is absolutely false.”
The Standing Rock protest on Facebook is not the first time that people have used a social media platform as a show of solidarity and to confuse police. In 2009, Twitter was employed by users during the Iranian elections to confuse law enforcement officials trying to track down bloggers and activists.
Over 411 people have been arrested since the North Dakota pipeline protest began in April.
Do you think the Standing Rock protest on Facebook can help native Indians preserve their lands?
[Featured Image by Jacquelyn Martin/AP Images]