Supporting Protest, Check-ins Flood Facebook Page for Standing Rock Indian Reservation

It wasn't clear where the digital protest movement originated

Hundreds of people were checking into the Facebook page of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation Monday, apparently as a way to support ongoing protests there.

An unverified rumor being circulated on Facebook claimed that local authorities were using check-ins as a way to determine who is at the North Dakota reservation — which the authorities denied — where a few dozen people are camping to protest the nearby construction of the four-state Dakota Access oil pipeline.

This text, or some variation, is being copy-pasted into many of the check-ins:

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 Protecters 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?"

Don't share, rather copy & paste for efficacy.

It was not clear where the claim originated. A Facebook search found that the text goes back at least to early Monday morning.

The Morton County Sheriff's Department called the Facebook rumor "absolutely false," saying in a statement on Facebook that the department "does not follow Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location."

The department could not be reached for comment Monday, as its phone number was busy during repeated calls to the department.

Facebook does not publicly track the number of check-ins at any location, a representative said. The Standing Rock reservation did not immediately return a message from NBC.

Since the number of protesters soared in August in North Dakota, more than 400 people have been arrested — including more than 140 on Thursday when officers evicted protesters camping on private land recently acquired by Energy Transfer Partners.

But donations started rolling in as well, and one crowdsourcing effort, to raise $5,000, has topped a staggering $1 million.

"It still feels unreal sometimes because it is such an astronomical figure to me," said Ho Waste Wakiya Wicasa, the protester who set up the GoFundMe account that has raised more than $1 million mostly for operating expenses at the camp, which took root in April.

The fund is among several cash streams that have provided at least $3 million to help with legal costs, food and other supplies to those opposing the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline. It may also give protesters the ability to prolong their months-long encampments that have attracted thousands of supporters, as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe pursues the fight in court.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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