Astroturfing is the word of the week. My brother just told me that one of his model/starfucker friends just called him up to chortle over the word astroturfing. This tells me that it is officially part of the internet lexicon and everybody needs to know the expression.
The term is, like the term spam, derived from an actual product. AstroTurf is the leading brand of fake grass ground covering. Developed in 1964, AstroTurf has been a particular boon for major sports arenas in areas where real grass is not easily grown or cared for. AstroTurf takes their products very seriously and promises to provide whatever is needed for every possible sport:
” The broad range of AstroTurf products ensures that there will be a synthetic turf system engineered to meet the demands of your team’s sport. Whether it’s a field hockey team that prefers the hydrophilic properties of AstroTurf 12™, or a soccer team that prefers the high-density fiber of AstroTurf PureGrass®.
Whatever sport your team plays, there’s an AstroTurf product ready to take the field.”
Grass roots support used to be what you called it when a band or political candidate had a lot of people who believed in them, whether or not the record labels or political machine did. Astroturfing is the act of faking grass roots support.
For example, if you see a point being made over and over again on MySpace or LiveJournal or in forums, and the point is usually made by people who nobody knows in real life, who tell you nothing plausible about themselves, and who do not have known online nicks, then you are probably looking at astroturfing. This means that, when you see certain points made over and over again, by potential sock puppets presenting what they supposedly think in a bullet point sort of structured way, you are looking at astroturfing or fake grass roots support. It is my understanding that often dating sites and sites which sell music street team services to bands are the two types of organizations which most commonly set up fake profiles. Astroturfing is not the only function of a fake profile, but it is a favorite. A non-digital example of astroturfing would be when the news media found out that the enthusiastic fans waiting in line to buy various products when they first came on sale . . . were not really enthusiastic fans. Many bands, when either touring or showcasing, hire good-looking girls to come cheer in the front row, but traditionally one at least had to find real live good-looking girls to be willing to act like they supported the band. Now they can be wholly fictional.
Astroturfing has become popular for three primary reasons. Firstly, the current younger demographics have been bombarded with traditional advertisements for so many years that a certain immunity to them has resulted, forcing marketers to be creative. Secondly, because the internet was initially (ROFL) supposed to be a noncommercial environment, a lot of marketers came up with innovative (and icky) ways to circumvent people’s resistance to blatant and honest commercial presentation. Thirdly, artists and politicians who have actual grass roots support are very hard for the corporate world to entirely control, so corporations prefer popularizing something fake through astroturfing to having to deal with individuals who have personal power.
Now everyone go use the term astroturfing in a sentence this week.