Bad-faith actors use a variety of online manipulation practices to disrupt elections or damage the reputation of public figures. Some of these practices rely on traditional paid-for advertising. Yet, using the services of Google and Co. can be notoriously expensive. Services like AdSense or Facebook Pixel also leave an easily identifiable digital footprint. Instead, many manipulation campaigns rely on the seemingly organic spread of content — giving their message free exposure across social networks. How can bad-faith actors achieve this organic spread of content? One of the techniques is ‘astroturfing’.

What is astroturfing?

To understand astroturfing, let’s take a look the original meaning…

Christian Schwieter

MSc student @ Oxford Internet Institute. All things digital politics, disinformation & online social movements. More at

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