- First, we should analyze the information available about the targeted subject until we find a reasonable number of key sites, from where our lie will “propagate itself” after being injected.
- Once these sites have been located, it’ s the turn of astroturfing, which basically is the spreading of false information – better said, misinforming – making it look as if it came from many independent sources. By fooling others into thinking that there’s a wide support for a cause, the attackers can encourage a favorable opinion about it. The key to success is making the public believe that all opinions come from a large number of independent individuals, not organized and geographically scattered, which is easy to achieve with the appropriate means.
A sufficient number of astroturfers can decide what makes the headlines or bury important news in media like Digg or Menéame, vote videos in Youtube, keep alive false entries, write their own version of the facts in Wikipedia and even influence Google searches.
We have seen in the last years numerous examples of astroturfing with a diverse range of targets, from ridiculing political campaigns to improving the sale of a product. In fact, the governments of China and Israel have acknowledged having used groups of astroturfers – as volunteers and paid staff respectively – to flood politics and human rights advocates’ forums with opinions favorable to their political agenda.