Monday, October 31, 2016

Will it hamper counter-protests if I check in at Standing Rock?

Meme going around on Facebook: you should check in at Standing Rock, ND, in order to help protesters. This will help them because the sheriff's office is using Facebook to target protesters. If they see a flood of Standing Rock checkins, they won't know who's actually there. Snopes has a decent rundown.

Is it useful for randos to check in at Standing Rock? Depends on what the sheriff's office is doing, but probably not.

If they're real dumb guys: one of them has an idea like "hey let's check facebook to see who's protesting here!" And they go to, and then shrug and say "welp, none of these people are actually in Standing Rock :P"

If they're average randos: they do the above plan. And then look at other local organizations or places that are not the exact Standing Rock facebook page, but are around the area. That ought to give them a decent list of protesters. If they want to find all the protesters, sure, they won't be able to, but they couldn't anyway. If they want to find at least a few protesters to lock them up and make an example, that'll work. But then, they can probably do that already.

If they've got a good programmer on staff: they'll maybe be able to use the Facebook API to look back in time at who's checked in before today, and find some real protesters. (OR if they've got a secret pipeline to the NSA all-of-facebook, which I'd guess is unlikely but not impossible these days.)

In any case, flooding the Standing Rock facebook page won't help unless the local police are real dumb guys AND they decide to do something illegal. You can't round up and lock people up just because you know they're at a protest. (Of course, sometimes cops do it anyway. It's possible they're real dumb guys and they decide to step around the law.)

So, another chapter in the continuing saga of "geotags? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯".