*Did an Industry Front Group Create Fake Twitter Accounts to Promote the
Dakota Access Pipeline?*
*by Steve Horn*

[image: Screenshot of fake Twitter account criticizing DAPL protesters.]

*Facebook*: https://www.facebook.com/DeSmogBlog/posts/10157491958335422

*Twitter*: https://twitter.com/SteveAHorn/status/776456905224916993


A DeSmog investigation has revealed the possibility that a front group
supporting the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline
<http://www.desmogblog.com/energy-transfer-partners-bakken-oil-pipeline-through-iowa>
 (DAPL) — the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now (MAIN)
<https://mwalliancenow.org/> — may have created fake Twitter profiles,
known by some as “sock puppets,” to convey a pro-pipeline message over
social media. And MAIN may be employing the PR services of the firm DCI
 Group <http://www.desmogblog.com/dci-group>, which has connections to
the Republican Party, in order to do so.

DeSmog tracked down at least 16 different questionable Twitter
accounts which used the #NoDAPL
<https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=news&q=%23NoDAPL&src=typd>
hashtag
employed by protesters, in order to claim that opposition to the pipeline
kills jobs, that those protesting the pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux
Tribe's encampment use violence, and that the pipeline does not pose a risk
to water sources or cross over tribal land.

On September 13, people began to suspect these accounts were fake, calling
them out on Twitter
<https://twitter.com/duncanwrites/status/775842719809822720>, and by
September 14, most of the accounts no longer existed.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is set to carry oil obtained via hydraulic
fracturing (“fracking”) <http://www.desmogblog.com/fracking-the-future/> from
the Bakken Shale <http://www.desmogblog.com/directory/vocabulary/7174> basin
in North Dakota across the Dakotas, Iowa, and Illinois. Its owner, Energy
Transfer Partners (ETP), says it plans to
<http://media.graytvinc.com/documents/ETP+Internal+Memo+9+13+16+final+to+employees.pdf>
talk
to the Obama administration and “reiterate [its] commitment to bring the
Dakota Access Pipeline into operation.” It will do so despite the
administration requesting that the company halt construction
<http://www.desmogblog.com/2016/09/09/mixed-reactions-feds-give-standing-rock-sioux-partial-victory>
“voluntarily —
particularly around the contested sacred tribal sites located 20 miles east
and west of Lake Oahe and the Missouri River — until further notice.”

In his memorandum
<http://media.graytvinc.com/documents/ETP+Internal+Memo+9+13+16+final+to+employees.pdf>
announcing
his company's plans to do so, ETP CEO Kelcy Warren espoused many of the
same arguments that were deployed by the Twitter sock puppets, which
calls into question whether his company helped spearhead the social media
campaign behind the scenes in order to create the appearance of grassroots
support, a technique known as “astroturfing.”

In that memo, Warren said his company plans to engage more aggressively in
the PR sphere.

“It has not been my preference to engage in a media/PR battle,” wrote
Warren. “However, misinformation has dominated the news, so we will work to
communicate with the government and media more clearly in the days to come.”

Vicki Granado, a spokesperson for the company, did not respond to a request
for comment.

In the meantime, as all stakeholders in the debate await a definitive next
move from the Obama administration, protests both on-site and nationwide
have continued, with a militarized police presence
<https://twitter.com/SacredStoneCamp/status/775853557945737216> at the
Sacred Stone Camp intensifying. U.S.Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spoke
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgirR4Psie4&t=4m17s> at a September 13
Washington, DC protest
<http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-stands-with-tribal-nations-calls-on-president-to-stop-pipeline>
against
the pipeline, while U.S.Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Raul Ruiz
(D-CA) that same day called for a congressional oversight investigation
<https://ruiz.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/ruiz-grijalva-request-oversight-hearing-discuss-tribal-consultation>
of the
hotly contested permitting issues which have arisen in the ongoing saga
over the pipeline's future.

With that backdrop, in came the “sock puppets” for their own September 13
day of action on Twitter — and with MAINlikely pulling the strings.

Read more here
<http://www.desmogblog.com/2016/09/15/dakota-access-pipeline-fake-twitter-accounts-dci-group>
.

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