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Mountain Valley Pipeline seeks the identity of its anonymous critics | Local News | roanoke.com

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Mountain Valley Pipeline seeks the identity of its anonymous critics


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MVP steep slopes

An aerial view shows a section of land being prepared for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, stopping short of a creek.

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The Roanoke Times, File May


Very little is publicly known about a very public critic of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Appalachians Against Pipelines established a Facebook page in February 2018, about the time that tree-sitters began their efforts to block construction of the massive natural gas pipeline.

Since then, the group has used social media as a megaphone to promote its agenda, while otherwise remaining largely invisible.

Mountain Valley is trying to find out who they are. In a subpoena recently filed in Roanoke’s federal court, the company asks Facebook to reveal the names and telephone numbers of those who established and maintain a page that has more than 21,000 followers.

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Appalachians Against Pipelines says the subpoena is nothing more than an effort to intimidate and silence them — a position shared by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for privacy and free speech on the internet.

“It generally gives us concern when we see a company like MVP trying to unmask its critics,” said Adam Schwartz, a senior attorney with the San Francisco-based foundation.

The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the rights of critics to remain unnamed, noting that the practice can be traced back to the founders of the nation who published newspaper pieces anonymously out of fear of retaliation from the King of England.

In order for a company like Mountain Valley to acquire the names of the administrators of a Facebook page, it must meet a high standard of showing that its needs or concerns outweigh the First Amendment rights of the commenters, Schwartz said.

“The right to stay anonymous is not absolute,” he said.

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Schwartz said it is not unheard of for a company to seek information about its opponents from the social media outlets they use. When a subpoena is contested, judges make case-by-case decisions.

Mountain Valley declined to comment Friday, saying that “details regarding any pending or potential litigation efforts cannot be provided at this time.”

The subpoena was filed Aug. 20 in connection with a pending case in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, where the company has been at odds for years with the owners of a Bent Mountain property through which the pipeline needs to pass.

Coles and Theresa “Red” Terry became concerned when construction crews began drilling through bedrock on their land last month in preparation for blasting to clear a path for the buried, 42-inch pipe.

They filed a request for an injunction to stop the blasting, saying that it threatened to contaminate their well water. The request was denied Aug. 13 by District Judge Elizabeth Dillon.

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One week later, Mountain Valley filed its own request for an injunction, asking Dillon to order that protesters of the pipeline not interfere with work on the Terry property.

“On Aug. 11, in order to prevent the blasting from proceeding, protesters were invited to the property to position themselves along the edge of the easements,” the motion states. “Messages were posted on social media asking readers to join the protest.”

The motion does not mention Appalachians Against Pipelines.

But in an Aug. 11 post to the group’s Facebook page, a “call for support” suggested that supporters of the Terrys show up at their property, and instructed them to the page of another group, Water Is Life Protect It, for directions.

The subpoenas issued to Facebook ask for the administrators of both groups’ pages. Efforts to reach Water is Life Protect It for this story were unsuccessful.

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Mountain Valley contends that the protesters — some of whom stood within 50 feet of live explosives while smoking cigarettes — were creating a risk to themselves and pipeline workers.

Dillon is being asked to order any observers on the Terry property to “remain a safe distance from blasting on the project.” The motion also asks that Coles and Red Terry be held in contempt of court for violating an earlier order that gave Mountain Valley possession of a 125-foot wide easement through their land under the laws of eminent domain.

Joe Sherman, a Norfolk attorney who represents the Terrys, said Friday that Mountain Valley is seeking an injunction that would give it control of private property beyond the reach of its easement.

“The Court should decline the invitation to read ambiguous power into MVP’s easement documents. MVP must revise its own easement if it needs to restrict the use of private property beyond the pipeline project corridor,” he wrote in an email.

Sherman also voiced concerns about another subpoena, this one issued to Red Terry seeking her social media comments and other information, including a list of visitors to her property.

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Terry said Friday that she doesn’t spend much time on Facebook, and that her only goal was to protect the water on rural property that has been in her family for seven generations.

“They [Mountain Valley] want to create the illusion that I’m out here just raising hell,” said Terry, who in 2018 spent more than a month in a tree stand in effort to prevent tree-cutting on her land.

Appalachians Against Pipelines said in a statement that it will continue to share information about grassroots opposition to the 303-mile pipeline on social media.

“This isn’t the first time that MVP has used intimidation tactics to try to stop resistance to the pipeline, and it won’t be the last,” the statement read.

No date has been scheduled for a hearing on Mountain Valley’s request for an injunction that would keep protesters away from its blasting sites. The subpoenas to Facebook demand that the social media giant produce the requested information by Sept. 17.

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When someone sets up a page on Facebook, they are given the option of whether or not they want to be publicly identified or not. Appalachians Against Pipelines chose the latter, it said.

Usually when a subpoena is issued, Facebook will inform administrators of its pages, Schwartz said. It is then up to the individuals to challenge the subpoena.

One administrator of the Facebook page had not heard anything from the company by Friday, a spokesperson for the group said. Facebook had not responded by Friday evening to two emails sent by The Roanoke Times.

Appalachians Against Pipelines has been a vocal critic of the pipeline, which has come under fierce fire for its use of eminent domain to take private property, failures to control muddy runoff from construction sites, and contribution to climate change.

But its approach is different from other organizations such as the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights coalition and Wild Virginia, who among others have actively participated in public meetings and filed legal challenges of the permits issued to the pipeline.

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The main sign of Appalachians Against Pipelines has been its presence on social media.

Occasionally, it will issue news releases when there is a protest, such as a recent blockade on Poor Mountain by three people who occupied a junked car parked in the pipeline right of way.

The spokesperson for Appalachians Against Pipelines, who asked to remain anonymous, declined to answer questions about the group’s organizational structure, such as whether it has officers or a formal membership list.

But, the statement said, “This campaign, and the dozens of other struggles against pipelines and fossil fuel infrastructure across the continent, are stronger than MVP and others want people to believe.”

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Creating Apps with App Use Cases

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With the goal of making Meta’s app creation process easier for developers to create and customize their apps, we are announcing the rollout of an updated process using App Use Cases instead of the former product-focused process. App Use Cases will enable developers to quickly create apps by selecting the use case that best represents their reason for creating an app.

Currently, the product-focused app creation process requires developers to select an app type and individually request permission to API endpoints. After listening to feedback from developers saying this process was, at times, confusing and difficult to navigate, we’re updating our approach that’s based on App Use Cases. With App Use Cases, user permissions and features will be bundled with each use case so developers can now confidently select the right data access for their needs. This change sets developers up for success to create their app and navigate app review, ensuring they only get the exact data access they need to accomplish their goals.

Starting today Facebook Login will be the first use case to become available to developers. This will be the first of many use cases that will be built into the app creation process that will roll out continually in 2023. For more information please reference our Facebook Login documentation.

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Understanding Authorization Tokens and Access for the WhatsApp Business Platform

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The WhatsApp Business Platform makes it easy to send WhatsApp messages to your customers and automate replies. Here, we’ll explore authentication using the Cloud API, hosted by Meta.

We’ll start with generating and using a temporary access token and then replace it with a permanent access token. This tutorial assumes you’re building a server-side application and won’t need additional steps to keep your WhatsApp application secrets securely stored.

Managing Access and Authorization Tokens

First, let’s review how to manage authorization tokens and safely access the API.

Prerequisites

Start by making sure you have a developer account on Meta for Developers. You’ll also need WhatsApp installed on a mobile device to send test messages to.

Creating an App

Before you can authenticate, you’ll need an application to authenticate you.

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Once you’re signed in, you see the Meta for Developers App Dashboard. Click Create App to get started.

Next, you’ll need to choose an app type. Choose Business.

After that, enter a display name for your application. If you have a business account to link to your app, select it. If not, don’t worry. The Meta for Developers platform creates a test business account you can use to experiment with the API. When done, click Create App.

Then, you’ll need to add products to your app. Scroll down until you see WhatsApp and click the Set up button:

Finally, choose an existing Meta Business Account or ask the platform to create a new one and click Continue:

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And with that, your app is created and ready to use. You’re automatically directed to the app’s dashboard.

Note that you have a temporary access token. For security reasons, the token expires in less than 24 hours. However, you can use it for now to test accessing the API. Later, we’ll cover how to generate a permanent access token that your server applications can use. Also, note your app’s phone number ID because you’ll need it soon.

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Click the dropdown under the To field, and then click Manage phone number list.

In the popup that appears, enter the phone number of a WhatsApp account to send test messages to.

Then, scroll further down the dashboard page and you’ll see an example curl call that looks similar to this:

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curl -i -X POST https://graph.facebook.com/v13.0//messages -H 'Authorization: Bearer ' -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d '{ "messaging_product": "whatsapp", "to": "", "type": "template", "template": { "name": "hello_world", "language": { "code": "en_US" } } }'

Note that the Meta for Developers platform inserts your app’s phone number ID and access token instead of the and placeholders shown above. If you have curl installed, paste the command into your terminal and run it. You should receive a “hello world” message in WhatsApp on your test device.

If you’d prefer, you can convert the curl request into an HTTP request in your programming language by simply creating a POST request that sets the Authorization and Content-Type headers as shown above, including the JSON payload in the request body.

Since this post is about authentication, let’s focus on that. Notice that you’ve included your app’s access token in the Authorization header. For any request to the API, you must set the Authorization header to Bearer .

Remember that you must use your token instead of the placeholder. Using bearer tokens will be familiar if you’ve worked with JWT or OAuth2 tokens before. If you’ve never seen one before, a bearer token is essentially a random secret string that you, as the bearer of the token, can present to an API to prove you’re allowed to access it.

Failure to include this header causes the API to return a 401 Unauthorized response code.

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Creating a Permanent Access Token

Knowing that you need to use a bearer token in the Authorization header of an HTTP request is helpful, but it’s not enough. The only access token you’ve seen so far is temporary. Chances are that you want your app to access the API for more than 24 hours, so you need to generate a longer-lasting access token.

Fortunately, the Meta for Developers platform makes this easy. All you need to do is add a System User to your business account to obtain an access token you can use to continue accessing the API. To create a system user, do the following:

  • Go to Business Settings.

  • Select the business account your app is associated with.
  • Below Users, click System Users.
  • Click Add.
  • Name the system user, choose Admin as the user role, and click Create System User.
  • Select the whatsapp_business_messaging permission.
  • Click Generate New Token.
  • Copy and save your token.

Your access token is a random string of letters and numbers. Now, try re-running the earlier request using the token you just created instead of the temporary one:

curl -i -X POST https://graph.facebook.com/v13.0//messages -H 'Authorization: Bearer ' -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d '{ "messaging_product": "whatsapp", "to": "", "type": "template", "template": { "name": "hello_world", "language": { "code": "en_US" } } }'

Your test device should receive a second hello message sent via the API.

Best Practices for Managing Access Tokens

It’s important to remember that you should never embed an App Access Token in a mobile or desktop application. These tokens are only for use in server-side applications that communicate with the API. Safeguard them the same way you would any other application secrets, like your database credentials, as anyone with your token has access to the API as your business.

If your application runs on a cloud services provider like AWS, Azure, GCP, or others, those platforms have tools to securely store app secrets. Alternatively there are freely-available secret stores like Vault or Conjur. While any of these options may work for you, it’s important to evaluate your options and choose what works best for your setup. At the very least, consider storing access tokens in environment variables and not in a database or a file where they’re easy to find during a data breach.

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Conclusion

In this post, you learned how to create a Meta for Developers app that leverages the WhatsApp Business Platform. You now know how the Cloud API’s bearer access tokens work, how to send an access token using an HTTP authorization header, and what happens if you send an invalid access token. You also understand the importance of keeping your access tokens safe since an access token allows an application to access a business’ WhatsApp messaging capabilities.

Why not try using the Cloud API, hosted by Meta if you’re considering building an app for your business to manage WhatsApp messaging? Now that you know how to obtain and use access tokens, you can use them to access any endpoint in the API.

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Now people can share directly to Instagram Reels from some of their favorite apps

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More people are creating, sharing and watching Reels than ever before. We’ve seen the creator community dive deeply into video content – and use it to connect with their communities. We’re running a limited alpha test that lets creators share video content directly from select integrated apps to Instagram Reels. Now, creators won’t be interrupted in their workflow, making it easier for them share share and express themselves on Reels.

“With the shift to video happening across almost all online platforms, our innovative tools and services empower creativity and fuel the creator economy and we are proud to be able to offer a powerful editing tool like Videoleap that allows seamless content creation, while partnering with companies like Meta to make sharing content that much easier.”- Zeev Farbman, CEO and co-founder of Lightricks.

Starting this month, creators can share short videos directly to Instagram Reels from some of their favorite apps, including Videoleap, Reface, Smule, VivaVideo, SNOW, B612, VITA and Zoomerang, with more coming soon. These apps and others also allow direct sharing to Facebook , which is available for any business with a registered Facebook App to use.

We hope to expand this test to more partners in 2023. If you’re interested in being a part of that beta program, please fill out this form and we will keep track of your submission. We do not currently have information to share about general availability of this integration.

Learn more here about sharing Stories and Reels to Facebook and Instagram and start building today.

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FAQs

Q. What is the difference between the Instagram Content Publishing API and Instagram Sharing to Reels?

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A: Sharing to Reels is different from the Instagram Content Publishing API, which allows Instagram Business accounts to schedule and publish posts to Instagram from third-party platforms. Sharing to Reels is specifically for mobile apps to display a ‘Share to Reels’ widget. The target audience for the Share to Reels widget is consumers, whereas the Content Publishing API is targeted towards businesses, including third-party publishing platforms such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social that consolidate sharing to social media platforms within their third-party app.

Q: Why is Instagram partnering with other apps?

A: Creators already use a variety of apps to create and edit videos before uploading them to Instagram Reels – now we’re making that experience faster and easier. We are currently doing a small test of an integration with mobile apps that creators know and love, with more coming soon.

Q: How can I share my video from another app to Reels on Instagram?

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A: How it works (Make sure to update the mobile app you’re using to see the new Share to Reels option):

  • Create and edit your video in one of our partner apps
  • Once your video is ready, tap share and then tap the Instagram Reels icon
  • You will enter the Instagram Camera, where you can customize your reel with audio, effects, Voiceover and stickers. Record any additional clips or swipe up to add an additional clip from your camera roll.
  • Tap ‘Next’ to add a caption, hashtag, location, tag others or use the paid partnerships label.
  • Tap ‘Share’. Your reel will be visible where you share reels today, depending on your privacy settings.
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Q: How were partners selected?

A. We are currently working with a small group of developers that focus on video creation and editing as early partners. We’ll continue to expand to apps with other types of creation experiences.

Q: When will other developers be able to access Sharing to Reels on Instagram?

A: We do not currently have a date for general availability, but are planning to expand further in 2023.

Q: Can you share to Facebook Reels from other apps?

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A: Yes, Facebook offers the ability for developers to integrate with Sharing to Reels. For more information on third-party sharing opportunities, check out our entire suite of sharing offerings .

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