Oops! Standing Rock “Facebook Check-Ins” Are Another Internet Legend

Oops! Standing Rock “Facebook Check-Ins” Are Another Internet Legend

Chuck Fager is at SNOPES.COM, standing in solidarity with the small and  scorned remnant who check such things before helping spread viral baloney. Snopes has debunked the viral rumor that faking “check-ins” on Facebook will somehow protect protesters at Standing Rock from police surveillance.


Yes, another feelgood fake bites the dust. As Snopes put it:

“The largest question was whether the base claim was true — did checking in at Standing Rock genuinely work to confound the Morton County Sheriff’s Departments attempts to target and surveil demonstrators?

We contacted the department about the rumor, and an officer explained not only that they were not using Facebook check-ins as a gauge of anything, but that the metric presented no intelligence value to them. The rumor suggested that protesters cited Facebook check-ins as a manner in which police could target them, but check-ins were voluntary — and if police were using geolocation tools based on mobile devices, remote check-ins would not confuse or overwhelm them. In an e-mail response, a separate officer stated:

‘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.’

We also contacted Sacred Stone Camp to determine whether they were the source of the social media plea. A representative clarified the rumor, telling us that police do sift through social media for “incriminating material” (not whether or not they were at the site, however) and to generally monitor the protests. They told us that the group appreciated the gesture of solidarity, but that the message did not originate with their camp:

There is no doubt that law enforcement comb social media for incriminating material and monitor communications.

There is no solid line between “organizers” and “others”- this is a movement, not an organization. There are many camps and points of contact, we can only verify that it did not originate from the Sacred Stone Camp FB page. We support the tactic, and think it is a great way to express solidarity.

Neither the Morton County’s Sheriff’s Department nor representatives for a large camp believed that the viral Facebook status meme was impeding law enforcement activities (although the protesters said that they appreciated the solidarity). Sacred Stone Camp maintained a fund to which supporters could donate money to support their legal defense. Although the meme drew attention to the issue, it didn’t necessarily draw material assistance.”

A blogger’s comment: solidarity; fine. Support (e.g., money, supplies, physical presence) fine. Spreading feelgood fakes; not fine with me.

Pass it on.

4 thoughts on “Oops! Standing Rock “Facebook Check-Ins” Are Another Internet Legend”

  1. When I posted “from” Sacred Stone Camp I had already seen a FB post from the county police department in question to the effect that they don’t use FB locations in their search for individuals. I posted because I really want to get as close to “standing with” the water protectors as I could. Not all of us are to be assumed to be uninformed about what we do Chuck!

  2. Well I suspected as much but figured it couldn’t hurt if nothing else to show solidarity and raise some consciousness. Unfortunately FB is as close as I can get to standing with these fine folk.

    1. Solidarity is fine, Mary, and many of us have ties that keep us close to home. I’m just a nag about not doing it via bogus stuff. Slippery slope and all that.

  3. With “sign-ins” having reached about 1.5 million *globally* the consequences of this tactic have been quite positive for the water protectors. A member of the Northumbria Community, the Celtic Christian lay monastic one I attended, has signed in. I find it touching.

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