The success of an online campaign can be measured by audience participation. Surely, if a campaign is backed by hundreds of people, the company, organization, or government behind this campaign has a valid message shared among many people, right? Wrong.
With sophisticated online software, more companies, organizations, and governments are "astroturfing," or building fake grassroots campaigns. As described in The Guardian article, the process involves these groups posing as "real" people to drown out the public on web forums. Through "astroturfing," the impression of mass support from the people is created, ultimately deluging the valid opinions of the public.
The Guardian article argues "the need to protect the Internet from 'astroturfing' grows ever more urgent," to which I would agree as both a regular consumer of the Internet and as an aspiring public relations professional.
It is frightening to know how much "astroturfing" has escalated--becoming more complicated, widespread, and automated. Through "persona management software," astroturfers are not only able to multiply their efforts and therefore support, they are also able to make it increasingly difficult to detect robot personas created by astroturfers.