The use of paid shills to create the
impression of a popular movement, through means like letters to
newspapers from soi-disant `concerned citizens', paid opinion
pieces, and the formation of grass-roots lobbying groups that are
actually funded by a PR group (astroturf is fake grass; hence the
term). This term became common among hackers after it came to
light in early 1998 that Microsoft had attempted to use such
tactics to forestall the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust
action against the company.
This backfired horribly, angering a number of state
attorneys-general enough to induce them to go public with plans to
join the Federal suit. It also set anybody defending Microsoft on
the net for the accusation "You're just astroturfing!".
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