“Astroturfing” is aimed at giving the impression there’s widespread support for or against an agenda, when there’s not

“What if all isn’t as it seems? What if the reality you found was false—a carefully constructed narrative from unseen special interests, designed to manipulate your opinion… a Truman-showesque alternate reality all around you? Complacency in the news media, combined with incredibly powerful propaganda and publicity forces mean we sometimes get little of the truth. Special interests have unlimited time and money to figure out new ways to spin us, while cloaking their role.

Surreptitious Astroturf methods are now more important to these interests than traditional lobbying of Congress. There’s an entire industry built around it in Washington. What is Astroturf? It’s a perversion of grassroots, as in fake grassroots. Astroturf is when political, corporate, or other special interests disguise themselves and publish blogs, start Facebook and Twitter accounts, publish ads, letters to the editor, or simply post comments to try to fool you into thinking an independent or grassroots movement is speaking.

The whole point of Astroturf is to try to give the impression there’s widespread support for or against an agenda, when there’s not. Astroturf seeks to manipulate you into changing your opinion by making you feel as if you’re an Outlier, when you’re not. … Astroturfers seek to controversialize those who disagree with them. They attack news organizations that publish stories they don’t like, whistleblowers who tell the truth, politicians who dare to ask the tough questions, and journalists who have the audacity to report on all of it.

Sometimes, Astroturfers shove, intentionally, so much confusing and conflicting information into the mix that you’re left to throw up your hands and disregard all of it, including the truth. Drown out a link between a medicine and a harmful side-effect… say, vaccines and autism… by throwing a bunch of conflicting, paid for studies, survey and experts into the mix, confusing the truth beyond recognition.”

— Sharyl Attkisson, investigative journalist

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