A black hat (dubious) technique for spreading the word about a product or service by planting fake comments and blog posts that appear to be from genuine supporters. It undermines credibility and integrity in return for short term awareness and is illegal in the UK for marketing purposes under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
While the practice started as a lazy, underhand marketing trick, it has become increasingly common in the strategies of less scrupulous political groups and lobbyists attempting to disrupting intelligent debate by “trolling”, causing arguments or spreading false information. They manage to escape the law because they are not selling a product.
If any part of your digital strategy relies on underhand tactics like astroturfing, black hat SEO tactics or email harvesting, you may face a terrible backlash from the public when you get caught.
It’s called Astroturfing because it is artificial and plastic and it doesn’t grow.