Over 1.4 million Facebook users checked in at Standing Rock, North Dakota on Oct. 31. According to NPR, the move was a show of support to protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline, who were being arrested by the dozens. At the time, a rumor claimed that Morton County Sheriff’s Department used Facebook check-ins to track activists in order to arrest them. However, the sheriff’s department made a Facebook post that denied the use of social media to identify protestors.
The call to action seems to have mobilized people from various parts of the country, including students from Baruch College. As a result, Standing Rock was trending on Facebook and the protest gained popularity.
Despite the high number of people who checked in on Facebook in support of the cause, it only seemed to raise awareness of the issue. Facebook activism is in no way equivalent to the protests done by people who travelled to North Dakota to protest DAPL and risked being arrested. Even if the rumors were true, a few days from now, the number of checked-in users is likely to drop to what it was before the issue was trending, thus erasing the value of the initiative. Facebook is not the right medium to propagate the issue.