Astroturfing is a deceptive practice in which individuals or organizations attempt to create an impression of widespread support for a cause, product, or idea, while disguising the fact that they are the ones orchestrating the campaign. The term "astroturfing" is derived from "AstroTurf," a brand of artificial grass, and it alludes to the creation of a fake grassroots movement. ## Forms of astroturfing 1. **Social media manipulation**: Creating fake profiles, followers, or likes on [[social media]] platforms to give the illusion of public support or popularity. This can also include posting comments, reviews, or content that seems genuine but is actually crafted to promote or attack a specific agenda. 2. **Public relations campaign**s: Hiring PR firms to create and distribute content that appears to be from independent sources, such as op-eds, letters to the editor, or press releases, but is actually a [disinformation campaign]( utilizing [propaganda]( to promote a particular viewpoint or interest. 3. **Paid protesters or supporters**: Organizing or financially compensating individuals to attend events, protests, or rallies to give the appearance of widespread support or opposition for a cause. 4. **Fake organizations or websites**: Establishing phony organizations or websites that purport to represent genuine grassroots movements, but actually serve to advance the interests of a specific group, individual, or corporation. Astroturfing can be used for various purposes, such as promoting a political agenda, advancing corporate interests, or discrediting competitors or critics. It is widely considered unethical and, in some cases, illegal, as it misleads the public and undermines trust in genuine grassroots activism. So-called "social movements" like the [[Tea Party]] have been widely documented to be, in actuality, astroturfing endeavors -- typically funded and organized by some of America's most shadowy billionaires. Efforts to combat astroturfing include increased transparency in online advertising and stricter regulations around political lobbying and campaign finance. Getting the word out about the modern prevalence of the astroturfing tactic and its use by wealthy plutocrats who wish to better control the American political system can only help -- and we encourage people to always seek the original source of the messaging or movement behind a political campaign, particularly initiatives that seem to be well-funded and well-organized yet appear to have sprung "out of nowhere."