The Art of the Misdeal - Astroturfing and Astrosurfing

Prof. Michael A. McGerk | March/2017

Topic: The Art of the Misdeal - Astroturfing and Astrosurfing | not the same as Fake News

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 a grassroots participant(s).

refers to the creation of an artificial “grassroots” movement to advance an agenda or promote a commercial product. By artificial, it is meant ... an entity or collection of entities that disguise their efforts to influence public discourse by making it appear as a legitimate, independent reaction by real people.

While astrosurfing has been around since the mid 80s, online astrosurfing is a relatively new phenomenon, of which little is known. (However, evidence indicates that President Abraham Lincoln had issues with false data. (Irony 1) ) Astrosurfing is also qualitatively different from other malicious activities like spam, as the focus is more on propaganda as opposed to selling or marketing. Therefore known techniques to detect spam may not work for detecting astrosurfing behaviour.

Are Online Reviews Reliable? (Or Understanding Astroturfing) by Cecilia Frainard, Cecilia is a Huffington Post blogger, and tries to describe the current state of Fake News.

, this is a practice that both and yelp have tried to stop and Astrosurfing and fake news. have spent a lot of manpower at maintaining customer comments that are from real customers. Astroturfing and fake news Insuring that the reviews of products and services is critical to the honesty and image of their company. it is a big part of customer trust and loyality.

Many major companies have to filter out positive comments by their employees. This common problem puts all customer comments in question.

Your Opinion is being Manipulated | social pressure

Practitioners of "marketing" know that 88% of people trust reviews in search engines as much as personal recommendations. Engineering those opinions is big business and astoturfing is one way of accomplishing it. Astroturfing is the art and science of creating illusory crowds that become more "real" with every real person that joins.

, laws like the First Amendments right to free speech and others that protect anonymous and pseudonymous speech are the cornerstone of anonymity. These laws protect us, but they also make it difficult and expensive to unmask the true perpetrator of opinion rigging online. Courts need a reason to pierce the veil of anonymity or that of a pseudonym.

, someone has to get the astroturfing ball rolling. Fake people are often the starting point. A pseudonym/strawman would be created that includes a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and a LinkedIn profile. Once the pseudonym has been created, a false history is laid. People tend to believe other people, especially when an opinion is matched to a face. A real person is a collection of their life stories, so the fake person needs a backstory as well.

Real people join the time lines and conversations - then a Major Media picks up the story. Where do journalists get their stories? The internet of course. Often journalists trawl news feeds looking for fresh ideas. Under pressure from their editors, journalists don't have time to fact-check everything.

is the motivator of Fake News websites, as one good headline that is picked up can bring that website $6,000-8,000.00 dollars in advertising revenue due to the traffic. The click through revenues generated on a well planned fake news campaign can be in the 7 figures. Nothing illegal here, but a very interesting way to make money.

The unfortunate fact is: there are few gatekeepers of truth online. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing cannot discern truth from a carefully fabricated fiction.


How does that Affect 70 Going On 100 | Our Longevity

we need to rely of Science and the investment in nutritional research.

Low-Fats (LF) in favor of High-Carbohydrates (HC) - and there are many orhers - the influences of the Drug Companies which started 100 years ago when governments and industries abandoned nuitrition in favor of Medicine by Chemistry. The USDA put carbohydrates (as grains) at the bed-rock of the food pyramid. (Note 1)

Drugs and fraud promoting longevity

"Johnson & Johnson" ... spent more than double its R & D costs on Marketing".

The Washington Post - Big pharmaceutical companies are spending far more on marketing than research, by Ana Swanson February 11, 2015

| Open diagram in new window |

The AMA and Physicians have abandoned the nutritional approach to patient diagnostics and medicine, simply because they are not trained in nutrition. Doctors are not competent to answer the questions of their patients. A key part of the Hippocratic Oath ...

"I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure ...", has been forgotten ... Hippocrates.

Drug Watch .com - ... advertising promotes only the most expensive products, it drives prescription costs up and also encourages the 'medicalization' of American life. Convincing people they are sick and need a drug is a multi-billion dollar industry. In 2015 Americans spent a record $457 billion on prescription drugs.


Irony Notes:

  1. Ironically, Abraham Lincoln has no electricity when he was a boy. But, later in life he was elected president, and lived in the White House he had electricity, indoor plumbing, indoor bathrooms and the internet. Of course it was much slower them.

    But even in President Lincoln's time, he found the internet to have some false information. For example, since there was no telephone yet, and he could not call for Pizza since the phone number listed in the yellow pages did not work.

    This infurated him and he made a proclamation - All Pizza must be delivered within 30 minutes, and to this day Domino's still adheres to his proclamation. God Bless Domino's.


  1. Wheat is one of the most widely grown crops in the Western world. But the wheat of today is vastly different from the wheat our ancestors grew and ate. This is likely part of the explanation as to why celiac disease and gluten intolerance have risen four-fold since the 1950s. Until the 19th century, wheat was also usually mixed with other grains, beans and nuts; pure wheat flour has been milled into refined white flour only during the last 200 years. References: Grain Brain, written by Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist, (20) in which he reveals how processed grains can trigger neurological dysfunction and worsen dementia, also, Dr. Joseph Mercola, 2003 - The No-Grain Diet. (20a)


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