Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Astroturfing should be illegal

Erik Threet II

In my opinion, those who use astroturfing to gain a competitive edge or more followers/members are using a lot of time and energy to enact an unethical practice.

Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participant(s). This exercise is used by political campaigns, interest groups, religious groups and corporations mostly via the Internet. By hiding behind the web, these groups can portray and depict what all websites look like, so viewers believe they are legitimate. stated, "the anonymity of the web gives companies and governments golden opportunities to run astroturf operations: fake grassroots campaigns that create the impression that the large numbers of people are demanding or opposing particular policies. This deception is most likely to occur where the interests of companies or governments come into conflict with the interests of the public."

Companies use this tactic to show a more advanced following, so that they will seem more credible or more prestigious. Credibility and prestige are two highly praised qualities that will attract people to believe in that group's opinions. Little do the people know that the group's pitch is false or misleading.

Ultimately, I view this as a way for a group or individual to support his/her own ideologies or beliefs in an illegal manner. It's like being selfish and trying to get people to support the same view or opinion. Leading a political party support group or a Christian support group is not illegal, but boosting your supporters by showing fake funds and members is in my opinion.

The 2000 Presidential race was used as an example on a website we viewed in class. The website said, "with the Florida recount underway, Republicans knew that the battle for public opinion was of the utmost importance. To help things go their way Republican operatives flew in hundreds of GOP staffers, who descended on Dade County, Florida to stage what was meant to look like a grassroots protest against a hand recount of 10,750 ballots that was already underway. The media barely made mention that the “riots” were backed by GOP operatives, leaving most to think there was actual protesting against the recounts going on."

Deceiving people for one's own benefit is fraud. It leads me to question what their motives would be. What does one gain from a Republican or Democrat becoming president? What does one gain from using deception to promote one's love or hate for God? Is it worth it?

There is no need for this.  What I am failing to understand is why put in so much effort to trick people? The consequences of getting caught significantly outweigh what is temporarily gained. If and/or when the group gets caught, all credibility and respect is lost. The person in charge damaged his/her own reputation and future opportunity to gain a following. In addition to that, whatever the group is representing or supporting looks bad.

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