There are giant corporations that astroturf the internet on various social media platforms, Youtube content creators, etc. There are government agencies all over the world that pay agents to argue with you on the internet.
I’ll share a few examples.
- /u/slaterhearst spammed Reddit with links to The Atlantic. “The Daily Dot has confirmed that slaterhearst was Jared Keller, the associate editor and social media editor at magazine giant The Atlantic.”
- The Guardian: In a New York investigation dubbed “Operation Clean Turf,” dentists, lawyers, an ultra-sound clinic, Staten Island bus company US Coachways, a charter bus operator, a teeth-whitening service, a laser hair-removal chain and an adult entertainment club were caught buying fake reviews. The fake review companies posted on sites like Citysearch, Google, Yahoo and Yelp.
- New York Times: Lifestyle Lift, a cosmetic surgery company, reached a settlement with the State of New York over its attempts to fake positive consumer reviews on the Web. The company had ordered employees to pretend they were satisfied customers and write glowing reviews of its face-lift procedure on Web sites
- Wired: Powered by rapid advances in artificial intelligence, propaganda bots will soon run on genetic algorithms that let their ideas and messaging evolve, based on the resonance and effectiveness of previous messages. We are likely to see versions of these bots deployed on US audiences as part of the 2016 presidential election campaigns.
- Wired: Pro-Government Twitter Bots Try to Hush Mexican Activists
- Shareblue accounts caught in /r/politics posting links to Shareblue without disclosing their affiliation, which caused the mods to create a new disclosure rule and an official Shareblue account was registered. About a month later, Shareblue was again caught shilling on /r/politics without disclosing ties to the outlet, which caused them to ban Shareblue links to the sub.
- The Guardian: The British army is creating a special force of Facebook warriors, skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional warfare in the information age… The Israel Defence Forces have pioneered state military engagement with social media, with dedicated teams operating since Operation Cast Lead, its war in Gaza in 2008-9. The IDF is active on 30 platforms – including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram – in six languages.
- List of Shill Confessions
- The Intercept: Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to “Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies.” TigerSwan attempted a counterinformation campaign by creating and distributing content critical of the protests on social media.
- Slate on 2018 midterms interference: “Project Lakhta was a Russian influence campaign that had no particular ideological bent; it appears that the goal was simply to stir up conflict in online political debates by putting forth extreme arguments and inflammatory misinformation to incense both liberals and conservatives.”
- Glenn Greenwald: How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations
- The Bush and Gore campaigns of 2000 used methods similar to the Chinese government for conducting “guided discussions” in chatrooms designed to influence citizens
- NPR: Some Amazon Reviews Are Too Good To Be Believed. They’re Paid For. “Much like Amazon itself is a marketplace for goods, a world of separate, shadow marketplaces exists where reviews for Amazon products are bought and paid for — private Facebook groups, Slack channels, subreddits and more.”
- New York Times: “Hundreds of people work at a so-called troll farm in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to smother the voices of dissidents like Mr. Khashoggi.”
More links at the Astroturfing Information Megathread