What is Astroturfing? Essentially it’s the attempt to create an impression of widespread grassroots support for a policy, individual, or product, where little such support actually exists.
I stumbled on this excellent video by Sharyl Atkisson, an ex-CBS investigative journalist who apparently still holds the ethics of journalism in high regard (a rarity in the last decade). She does a stellar job of explaining this aspect of Propaganda.
Give it this 11 minute enlightenment a listen….. Astroturf and manipulation of media messages, TedX Talk by Sharyl Attkisson:
The whole point of astroturf is to try to convince you there’s widespread support for or against an agenda when there’s not.
The language of astroturfers and propagandists includes trademark inflammatory terms such as: anti, nutty, quack, crank, pseudo-science, debunking, conspiracy theory, deniers and junk science. Sometimes astroturfers claim to “debunk myths” that aren’t myths at all. They declare debates over that aren’t over. They claim that “everybody agrees” when everyone doesn’t agree. They aim to make you think you’re an outlier when you’re not.
Astroturfers often disguise themselves and publish blogs, write letters to the editor, produce ads, start non-profits, establish Facebook and Twitter accounts, edit Wikipedia pages or simply post comments online to try to fool you into thinking an independent or grassroots movement is speaking. They use their partners in blogs and in the news media in an attempt to lend an air of legitimacy or impartiality to their efforts.
In today’s world of social media it’s extremely easy for shills to set-up fake Facebook and Twitter accounts, control Wikipedia content, as well as create activist groups to push the agenda of an entity and its policies, while attempting to appear to be honest, grassroot individuals or groups.
Some relevant supporting articles on the obscene practice of Asrtoturfing:
- Journalist Reveals Tactics Brainwashing Industry Uses to Manipulate the Public, TheBigRiddle.com
- Astroturfing: what is it and why does it matter?, TheGuardian.com
- Top 10 Astroturfers, SharylAttkisson.com
- 10 Fake Grassroots Movements Started By Corporations To Sway Your Opinion, BusinessInsider.com
- What is astroturfing, and why your business should avoid it, BigCommerce.com