Online astroturfing refers to coordinated campaigns where messages supporting a specific agenda are distributed via the Internet. These messages employ deception to create the appearance of being generated by an independent entity. In other words, astroturfing occurs when people are hired to present certain beliefs or opinions on behalf of their employer through various communication channels. The key component of astroturfing is the creation of false impressions that a particular idea or opinion has widespread support. Although the concept of astroturfing in traditional media outlets has been studied, online astroturfing has not been investigated intensively by IS scholars. This study develops a theoretically-based definition of online astroturfing from an IS perspective and discusses its key attributes. Online astroturfing campaigns may ultimately have a substantial influence on both Internet users and society. Thus a clear understanding of its characteristics, techniques and usage can provide valuable insights for both practitioners and scholars.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/xiao_zhang/2/