What is Astroturfing?
Astroturfing, sometimes also referred to as green marketing, is a kind of advocacy, where in the people or content involved in the campaign favors a political group or a company. However, the campaign is organized in a way that it looks genuine and unbiased. The name ‘Astroturfing’ is derived from the brand ‘AstroTurf’ that offers synthetic carpet that looks very similar to real grass.
Astroturfing is nothing but a kind of propaganda, usually a social cause, kindled by a bunch of people hired by political parties or corporate entities. In some parts of the world, like in the UK, this technique is commonly referred to as ‘rent-a-crowd’.
However, this doesn’t only involve people walking on the streets with banners. There are a number of other techniques to perform astroturfing. Usually, this small bunch of people creates an effect that the same belief is supported by a huge mass, which is usually not the case.
One of the popular techniques involve sending numerous cards and letters by using false identities to people in power like President or other minister. It might also include calling up several people and urging them to protest against a cause. Some parties or corporate entities hire writers to write blogs against the opposition. These writers are disguised as common man.
Another similar technique is intentionally astroturfing for the opposition and being identified as astroturfers of the opposition. This spoils the reputation of the opposition.
In most developed countries, a high percentage of the population uses internet. Therefore, astroturfing, these days, is more active online. They use various online channels like social blogs, vlogs, forums, chat rooms, podcasts, social networking sites, etc to influence people closing following these sites.
While this certainly is an unethical practice, many giant organizations and most political parties adopt astroturfing in order to dampen the strength and support of the opposition or the competitor.