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The practice of creating the appearance of grassroots support for a position, as by hiring bloggers to promote that position or establishing ostensibly independent advocacy groups.

[From AstroTurf.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a PR tactic used in politics and advertising in which actors are paid to display overt and apparently spontaneous grassroots support for a particular product, policy, or event
[C21: from Astroturf, the artificial grass, as this is artifical grassroots support]
ˈastroˌturfer n
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in periodicals archive ?
The apparent astroturfing effort has been highlighted in a number of Reddit threads where users have attempted to trace the source of the comment.
In his abstract for the project, Menczer explains that his goal is to "mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas," "detect hate speech," and monitor the Web for "suspicious memes." Menczer, an Occupy Wall Street enthusiast, is concerned about partisan organizations "polluting" social media and passing off their astroturfing as real grassroots activity.
One particular case study proposes the use of a tactic called "astroturfing," or creating the illusion of grass-roots support, to prevent a bill from being passed that could negatively affect the participants' industry.