A tech company claims that anti-vax and anti-lockdown rallies have been ‘astroturfed’. Which means? Well, ‘AstroTurf’ was the world’s first artificial grass, developed for a football stadium in 1966. The verb ‘to astroturf’ means to pretend something is a grass-roots movement when it has been artificially concocted. A campaign tries to look like a widespread grass-roots movement, when, in fact, it is run by a small, but well-organised, group of obsessives. Such a campaign might consist of nothing more than a fat man sitting in his basement, eating donuts, while being technically clever enough to pump out thousands of emails through a large number of different email addresses. The result is the artificial appearance of a grass-roots movement that frightens, for example, politicians or business executives. They’ve been ‘astroturfed’.
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