What is Astroturfing?
Astroturfing is the practice of using deceptive communications to make a corporate or political message appear natural and organic, as if it comes from a very dispersed group of individuals or naturally arising social movements. This term is widely used in politics but can also be used in IT as those who practice astroturfing typically use certain types of digital media, such as online review sites and social media platforms.
Astroturfing use in digital venues is currently being prosecuted by state law enforcement agencies in New York and elsewhere in the United States. Officials are reviewing the practice of creating fake reviews and other astroturfing efforts that can be extremely deceptive to consumers. For example, companies that hire people to post to websites like Yelp or social media platforms like Facebook from a variety of IP addresses can be vulnerable to litigation or legal investigations.
The pursuit of astroturfing seems to be a relatively new phenomenon in the digital world. Businesses should be aware of how this controversy could apply to marketing efforts. While many consider astroturfing unethical, there is little public awareness of the legal implications of this type of marketing or outreach.