If your last scroll down your Facebook newsfeed left you scratching your head, you're not alone. Here's the scoop.
Today, tens of thousands of people are "checking in" to Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota in solidarity with those protesting the construction of an oil pipeline on the property. More than just a form of virtual protest, these check-ins are intended to throw off police officers who are looking to arrest people on the site by tracking their internet presence.
"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," an explanation of the post reads.
Though today is the first time many people are hearing about it, the tension over Standing Rock has been building over the last few months. Environmentalists, local citizens, and tribal leaders have gathered there since August arguing that the Dakota Access Pipeline, set to run 1,170 miles from North Dakota to Illinois, would threaten the area's water supply and damage surrounding sacred cultural lands and tribal burial grounds. Actors and politicians have also lent a voice to the chorus, with Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, and Shailene Woodley all joining the outcry.
Though their demonstrations have largely been peaceful, officers attempted to force protestors off the reservation last week. The ensuing scuffle culminated in the burning of multiple vehicles and 142 arrests.
So far, 30,000 and counting have turned to Facebook to make a statement. Though it remains to be seen if today's activity will have any effect on the pipeline, it certainly illustrates the ever-shifting role of social media. Now more than ever, people are using it as a platform to stick up for what they believe in and support others who are doing the same. And that's totally something we can get on board with.