Standing Rock Facebook check-ins don't 'overwhelm' police

Members and supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux at a rally in Washington (AAP)
Members and supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux at a rally in Washington (AAP)

More than a million people have used Facebook's check-in feature to "overwhelm and confuse" police tracking Standing Rock protesters - but it's now been exposed as fallacy.

Facebook users all over the world jumped at the chance to help the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who have objected to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would travel underneath the Missouri River - their primary water source.

The tribe says the pipeline would not only threaten their regional water supply, but also traverse sacred sites.

A copy-paste post in an effort to show solidarity with the tribe rose quickly in popularity after being posted by a user in North Carolina on Sunday.

"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," the post says.

"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?"

The Morton County Sheriff's Department, the law enforcement agency tasked with dealing with the protests, were so inundated with allegations that they made a public statement saying they were not tracking protesters with the tool.

"The Morton County Sheriff's Department is not and does not follow Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location," it wrote.

And Snopes, a website dedicated to uncovering internet rumours and fake news, has now moved to deny claims that 'checking in' at Standing Rock has any positive impact.

"We contacted the department about the rumour, 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," author Kim LaCapria wrote.

"If police were using geolocation tools based on mobile devices, remote check-ins would not confuse or overwhelm them."

Wes Enzinna, senior editor of Mother Jones magazine, has been at the protests for the past week and says he's yet to see or hear of a single arrest as a result of social media activity.

"This check-in tactic has [allegedly] been going on for over a week and I haven't met anyone who experienced it first-hand," he said.