Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants. It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source’s financial connection. The term astroturfing is derived from AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to resemble natural grass, as a play on the word “grassroots”. The implication behind the use of the term is that instead of a “true” or “natural” grassroots effort behind the activity in question, there is a “fake” or “artificial” appearance of support.

Astroturfing is when political, corporate or other special interest groups disguise themselves and creates official-looking websites, publish in scientific journals and blogs, create “official” Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, podcasts, publish ads, letters to the editors, comment online, start Wikipedia pages and even publish books and consult experts in the field. This is meant to fool you into thinking that an independent or grassroots movement is speaking. The whole point of “Astroturf” is to try to give the impression there’s widespread support for or against an agenda when there’s not. Astroturf seeks to manipulate you into changing your opinion by making you feel as if you’re an outlier when you not.  

Astroturfers seek to controversialise those who disagree with their narrative, they attack news organisations who publish stories they don’t like, politicians who “speak truth to power” whistle-blowers who tell the truth and journalists who have the testicular courage to report all of this. Sometimes Astroturfers flood the market with so much confusing, conflicting and alternate facts that the public suspends their judgement on the matter, ignoring even the truth. The aim is to confuse the truth beyond recognition by offering half-truths mixed with lies, inferences, suggestions and packaging it in a highly emotive, yet appealing manner. Think of it as a Truman-showesque, alternate reality that can best be described as conflating, conflicting, confusing and coercing, a type of “Sealioning” on steroids. 

They can make a good thing look bad and a bad thing look good, turn a man into a terrorist the one day, then reverse the decision the next, think Julius Malema and Nelson Mandela. How many white people sincerely believe that Julius is actually part of the government and a potential mass murderer, or, that he instigates farm murders? Conversely, how many white people think of Nelson Mandela as so saintly, he’s incapable of perspiring? Yet, their view would’ve been completely different in the late sixties, right? How many of us have been so programmed to see the unfortunate murders of people on farms by Astroturfers, that the neologism, “farm murders” has successfully entered into our lexicon in a very short space of time, elevating these deeds into a special type of crime and exclusive only to white farmers?

So before you go off confirming in your own head based on two videos on YouTube, a couple of articles on Facebook, a casual chat at the shebeen amongst your friends over a few cold ones that 5G does, in fact, cause the Coronavirus, that it was simultaneously manufactured by Fu Manchu in a secret lab in Wuhan, that it also caused a dramatic population decline in the yellow-breasted titmouse whilst inexplicably affecting the quality of your morning toast, please STOP for a moment and THINK outside of yourself. Remember, the quality of your thoughts determines the quality of your words…..