Astroturfing is propaganda but also technology used in certain areas of marketing, where an artificial support group is created that appears publically as grassroots activists, openly fighting in support of one „common goal“. In practice, it is a sponsored, managed and artificially created support group of one interested party used to create the impression that the end goal is supported by a large number of independent citizens and consequently giving the endeavour greater influence and effect on society.
Philip Morris, which has supported the campaign against cigarette sales restrictions as well as McDonald’s, which hired people to stand in line at the launch of new products, have used this technique. In Estonia, one of the most prominent and alarming cases is the support campaign of the NPNK card introduced by Hansapank for which a Rottweiler- squatter’s community was artificially created. The campaign ended with the bank apologizing to the young people who were misled and had asked in great numbers for an apology.
Propastop’s focus on this topic could regard as astroturfing the activities of the organizers of the peace march, which was a cover for supporting Novorossiysk, as well as the internet activities of the troll farm in Petersburg. The term astroturfing comes from the USA Company Astroturf that produces artificial grass to this day. The propaganda technique was named by USA Senator Lloyd Millard Bentsen Jr. who when receiving a large amount of mail in support of insurance companies, said that the fabricated mail showed that in Texas it is hard to tell the difference between real grass and Astroturf.
Astroturfing has now moved to the internet and is considered a more passive version of trolling. In the internet environment, it is easy to create and manage support groups that fight for one or another cause in great numbers. To simplify things, identity management software has also been created, something even the USA Navy has been interested in purchasing. The software allows you to create internet-based identities that have a complete history with all necessary background details attached.
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