Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Internet and 'Astroturfing.'

Ryan Parent

   With the new age of internet media and journalism comes a large amount of uncertainty and unreliability.  One form of this type of journalism is called asroturfing. Astroturfing, by definition, is the act of a corporation or sponsor acting as or pretending to be a single, or group of, grassroots supporters and originators of content.  For example if a tobacco company were to comment on a forum multiple times under multiple names to support its main objective this would be astroturfing.  This is because the company created users that did not exist in order to promote its ideals and/ or give the illusion of support for the idea.

      Astroturfing has become popular in the digital age because of the ease in which it can be completed.  Programs are now offered to corporations that can create backstories for users that never existed.  This includes creating email addresses, social media accounts, and regularly active IP addresses that give the impression that actual users are creating this content.

       Actions such as astroturfing cannot be allowed to hold ground in this new era for a number of reasons.  For one, internet content has already become difficult enough to trust in its reliability without the use of bots generating user content.  The future is here and we cannot stop it, all we can do is properly regulate it.  In my opinion this means weeding out astroturfing and sponsored bots so that we can ensure our general public gets the reliable news it deserves from sources that it can trust through and through.

   An article from The Guardian analyzed what it is to astroturf and how to pick apart the different pieces of it.  This article can be viewed here.

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