Archive for October 25th, 2010

October 25, 2010

Astroturfing

Astroturfing denotes political, advertising, or public relations campaigns that are formally planned by an organization, but are disguised as spontaneous, popular ‘grassroots’ behavior. The term refers to AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass. The goal of such campaigns is to disguise the efforts of a political or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event. The term is said to have been used first in this context by former US Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas in 1985.

Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals, by both overt (outreach, awareness, etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by an individual promoting a personal agenda, or highly organized professional groups with money from large corporations, unions, non-profits, or activist organizations. Very often, the efforts are conducted by political consultants who also specialize in opposition research.