Astroturfing

astroturffake blogastroturf groupsastroturfersastroturf organizationAstroturf organizationsAstroturf PRastroturf" groupfake blogsfake grassroots organizations
Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants.wikipedia
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Grassroots

grass rootsGrassroots movementgrass-roots
Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants.
Astroturfing refers to political action that is meant to appear to be grassroots, that is spontaneous and local, but in fact comes from an outside organization, such as a corporation or think tank.

Philip N. Howard

Philip Howard
In the first systematic study of astroturfing in the United States, Oxford Professor Philip N. Howard argued that the internet was making it much easier for powerful lobbyists and political movements to activate small groups of aggrieved citizens to have an exaggerated importance in public policy debates.
Howard was one of the first to investigate the impact of digital media on political campaigning in advanced democracies, and he was the first political scientist to define and study "astroturf" political movements as the managed perception of grassroots support through astroturfing in his research on the Gore and Bush presidential campaigns.

Blog

blogsbloggerweblog
According to an article in the Journal of Consumer Policy, the FTC's guides holds advertisers responsible for ensuring bloggers or product endorsers comply with the guides, and any product endorsers with a material connection are required to provide honest reviews.
The popularity of blogs has also given rise to "fake blogs" in which a company will create a fictional blog as a marketing tool to promote a product.

Sockpuppet (Internet)

sockpuppetsockpuppetssockpuppetry
Another technique is the use of sockpuppets, where a single person creates multiple identities online to give the appearance of grassroots support.
For example, according to one online encyclopedia, a meat puppet "publishes comments on blogs, wikis and other public venues about some phenomenon or product in order to generate public interest and buzz"—that is, he/she is engaged in behavior more widely known as "astroturfing".

Public relations

PRpublic relationpublic affairs
Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants.
Front groups are a form of astroturfing, because they intend to sway the public or the government without disclosing their financial connection to corporate or political interests.

National Smokers Alliance

In response to the passage of tobacco control legislation in the US, Philip Morris, Burson-Marsteller and other tobacco interests created the National Smokers Alliance (NSA) in 1993.
An early example of astroturfing, the NSA employed stealth marketing tactics to give the appearance of grassroots opposition to anti-smoking laws.

Americans for Technology Leadership

In 2001, as Microsoft was defending itself against an antitrust lawsuit, Americans for Technology Leadership (ATL), a group heavily funded by Microsoft, initiated a letter-writing campaign.
It has been described as a Microsoft front organization and has been cited as an example of astroturfing.

European Privacy Association

According to the Financial Times, astroturfing is "commonplace" in American politics, but was "revolutionary" in Europe when it was exposed that the European Privacy Association, an anti-privacy "think-tank", was actually sponsored by technology companies.
It has been called an example of an astroturfing organisation that "disguises as an independent thinktank".

West Plains, Missouri

West PlainsWest Plains †West Plains Missouri
The campaign appeared to be in response to the city of West Plains expanding their broadband network, and advocated for the end of municipal broadband on the basis that it was too risky.
In 2017 Fidelity Communications hired DM Web Dev Group to run an astroturfing campaign to discredit the city run fiber broadband service through the website stopcityfundedinternet.com.

Tea Party movement

Tea PartyTea PartiersTea Party activist
Many organizations in the Tea Party movement are astroturfed, with direct connections to right-wing think tanks and lobbying organizations, and their activities controlled by wealthy supporters or the GOP.
The Tea Party movement has both been cited as an example of grassroots political activity and has also been described as an example of corporate-funded activity made to appear as spontaneous community action, a practice known as "astroturfing."

HBGary

HBGary FederalAaron BarrHB Gary
At HBGary, employees are given separate thumb drives that contain online accounts for individual identities and visual cues to remind the employee which identity they are using at the time.
It has been reported that HBGary Federal was contracted by the US government to develop astroturfing software which could create an "army" of multiple fake social media profiles.

Filippo Menczer

Menczer
Filippo Menczer's group at Indiana University developed software in 2010 that detects astroturfing on Twitter by recognizing behavioral patterns.
Following influential publications on the detection of astroturfing and social bots, Menczer and his team have studied the complex interplay between cognitive, social, and algorithmic factors that contribute to the vulnerability of social media platforms and people to manipulation, and focused on developing tools to counter such abuse.

50 Cent Party

50 Cent Army50-cent army50-cent party
Paid online commentators in China are paid 50 cents for each online post that is not removed by moderators, leading to the nickname of the "50-cent party."

Letter to the editor

letters to the editorLettersletter
In 2003, GOPTeamLeader.com offered the site's users "points" that could be redeemed for products if they signed a form letter promoting George Bush and got a local paper to publish it as a letter to the editor.
Editors are a frequent target of letter-writing campaigns, also called “astroturfing,” or “fake grass-roots” operations where sample letters are distributed on the Internet or otherwise, to be copied or rewritten and submitted as personal letters.

Working Families for Walmart

Working Families for Wal-Mart
Walker highlights the case of Working Families for Wal-Mart, in which the campaign's lack of transparency led to its demise.
This has led to accusations of Walmart being engaged in deceit and astroturfing.

Internet Water Army

These paid posters can post news, comments, gossip, disinformation on some online platforms such as Weibo, WeChat and Taobao, China's eBay-like platform. In this "astroturfing" (meaning "artificial grass-roots") technique for public relations and media manipulation, online Chinese companies employ people to make postings on social media in order to change public opinion.

State-sponsored Internet propaganda

State-sponsored Internet sockpuppetrystate-sponsored
It is a kind of astroturfing.

Fidelity Communications

In January 2018, YouTube user Isaac Protiva uploaded a video alleging that internet service provider Fidelity Communications was behind an initiative called "Stop City-Funded Internet," based on how some images on the Stop City-Funded Internet website had "Fidelity" in their file names.
In 2017 Fidelity Communications hired DM Web Dev Group to run an astroturfing campaign to discredit the city run fiber broadband service in West Plains, Missouri through the website stopcityfundedinternet.com.

Lloyd Bentsen

Lloyd M. BentsenBentsenLloyd M. Bentsen, Jr.
The term "astroturfing" was first coined in 1985 by Texas Democratic Party senator Lloyd Bentsen when he said, "a fellow from Texas can tell the difference between grass roots and AstroTurf... this is generated mail."
Bentsen is also known for coining the term astroturfing.

Edelman (firm)

EdelmanEdelman Public RelationsEdelman Digital
In 2006, two Edelman employees created a blog called "Wal-Marting Across America" about two people traveling to Wal-Marts across the country.
The New Yorker called it a "blatant example of astroturfing".

Burson Cohn & Wolfe

Burson-MarstellerBurson MarstellerCohn & Wolfe
In response to the passage of tobacco control legislation in the US, Philip Morris, Burson-Marsteller and other tobacco interests created the National Smokers Alliance (NSA) in 1993.
Burson Cohn & Wolfe operates a number of subsidiary companies, including grassroots marketing consultancy Direct Impact, government affairs and lobbying firm Prime Policy Group, advertising consultancy Proof Integrated Communications, and strategic communications consultancy PivotRED.

Front organization

frontfront groupfront company
Use of one or more front groups is one astroturfing technique.
Some special interest groups engage in astroturfing, which is an attempt to mask lobbying as a grassroots movement.

Eric Schneiderman

Eric T. SchneidermanAttorney General Eric Schneidermanattorney general of New York State
In September 2013, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a settlement with 19 companies to prevent astroturfing.
In September 2013, Schneiderman announced a settlement with 19 companies to prevent astroturfing; i.e., buying fake online praise.

Internet troll

trollingtrollstroll
Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson is one of several in the media who has reported on the trend for organizations to utilize trolls to manipulate public opinion as part and parcel of an astroturfing initiative.