Astroturfing refers to giving misleading impressions regarding grassroots support for something. The term comes from AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to resemble natural grass.
One example is "consumer" reviews of commercial products on the Internet. In 2012, a data-mining expert "estimates that about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake. Yet it is all but impossible to tell when reviews were written by the marketers or retailers (or by the authors themselves under pseudonyms), by customers (who might get a deal from a merchant for giving a good score) or by a hired third-party service."
What practices are astroturfing may be unclear. Political organizations often encourage their supporters to write to politicians and newspapers, participate in protests, and so on. This is usually not considered to be astroturfing, but if an organization is extremely active regarding this, then this may cause misleading impressions regarding public support. Politically correct Internet activism organizations is one example of this.
Politically correct mass media practice astroturfing, such as by sometimes stating too low numbers of protesters protesting something politically correct, and conversely stating too high numbers of politically correct counter-protesters.
Homosexual activists have been accused of often deliberately citing misleading numbers regarding the prevalence of homosexuality, in order to gain more political influence. There has also been a greatly expanded presence of homosexuals in (entertainment) mass media. This may explain why surveys in the United States have found that the general public greatly overestimates the prevalence of homosexuality and that these overestimates have become increasingly larger over time.
Some aspects of hasbara may be astroturfing.
- Virtue signalling - Another cause of misleading impressions of support for something.
- Streitfeld, David (August 25, 2012). "The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy". The New York Times. Retrieved October 25, 2012. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?_r=4&pagewanted=all&
- How Many Gay People Are There In America? Nope — You’re Wrong http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/how-many-gay-people-are-there-in-america-nope-youre-wrong/
- Poll: Americans massively overestimate prevalence of homosexuality. http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/poll-americans-massively-overestimate-prevalence-of-homosexuality