Why Is Everyone Checking In At Standing Rock?

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05Over 1 million people have checked in on Facebook at Standing Rock, a Native American reservation in North Dakota. They’ve been doing this in support of protesters who were trying to prevent an oil pipeline from being built through Standing Rock. Checking in is designed to confuse police – protesters think they’re tracking people on social media to make a list of protesters.

The pipeline is set to cost $3.7bn and would go over ancient burial grounds and archaeological sites, as well as potentially contaminating their water source. It would transport up to 570,000 barrels of oil a day and increase fossil fuel emissions. Energy Transport Partners, the company behind the project, have said it will boost local economies and is a much safer way of transporting oil.

Supporters of the protesters shared the following message on Facebook:

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department has been using Facebook check-ins to find out who is at SR [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 SR to overwhelm and confuse them.

People want to confuse the police because of alleged unnecessary force used on activists – local police have arrested around 150 people in relation to the protests.

Sheriffs and police have denied that they’re using social media to track protesters, and claim that ‘if police were using geolocation tools based on mobile devices, remote check-ins would not confuse or overwhelm them’. Recently there have been claims that the police have used social media to track protesters, like during the Ferguson and Baltimore riots. The American Civil Liberties Union said that this monitoring can ‘disproportionately impact communities of colour’.

Supporters have been asking social media executives to cut off access to companies who could give the police information, and since then Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have all shut off access to Geofeedia – a social media startup which claims to offer organisations the ability to to predict, analyze and act based on real-time social media conversations.

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Third year PAIR student and head of events. Also The Edge's live editor and 2016-17 opinion editor. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about politics and cats @_Carly_May on Twitter.

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