Last night I got quite a few messages from you readers about strange messages on the Morton County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page.
Here is a screenshot sent in by one reader:
He said the County has been overwhelmed trying to moderate the thousands and thousands of comments their page has been getting, which is plausible. Anyone who has visited the the page during the #NoDAPL protests could see that it was overrun. According to Keller they took it down until they could figure out some new settings for the page worked out.
But others – including Francis Materi, a reporter and editor of the Wishek Star – are insisting that the Facebook page really was hacked:
This is not disagreement. Morton County is misinforming you. Photo in my my last tweet is of the official page URL on Saturday morning. https://t.co/acuFMtXdEo
— Francis Materi (@fran_the_man) November 27, 2016
Keller tells me that the Morton County Sheriff’s Department page was verified, meaning that it would show up on Facebook with that little blue check mark next to it. He said there were some accounts set up spoofing the Morton County page, but that those accounts lacked the verification check mark.
The screenshot above, which I got from Materi, doesn’t show that check mark. But then, as I poke around Facebook on other verified page accounts, the check mark doesn’t show up on individual postings anyway.
So that tells us exactly nothing.
Could someone, having noticed that the old Morton County page was down, have created a new one in its place? I don’t think you can recycle an old Facebook page’s URL – this Facebook help document says it’s not possible – but what if someone created one that was similar enough to fool people?
The only time you see a Facebook URL is when you’re using a browser, and even then how many people even notice it?
Or maybe Morton County really was “hacked” by Anonymous or some other group. In which case, why would Morton County even want to hide that fact? Hacking Facebook accounts is only further evidence that #NoDAPL is a violent movement bent on advancing their political goals through violence and, in the instance of hacking, intimidation.
Morton County has confirmed that their officials have been targeted for doxing and credit card hacking. Their Facebook account getting hacked would only be further proof of their point, no?
Whatever happened, right now the URL for Morton County’s page is dead. Keller didn’t give me a timeline for when it might be back up.