The terms crowdturfing and astroturfing aren’t as far away from each other as we think. They’re, actually, quite close relatives. Crowdturfing is a new term that is a combination of crowdsourcing and astroturfing terms. So, we first need to find out what the terms astroturfing and crowdsourcing mean to understand crowdturfing and determine the differences between astroturfing.
Astroturfing is a masking method that some groups of people use to make a message or an organization appear as it originates from the base and real participants. The most important of its use is to provide credibility to messages of organizations or companies. Besides, the term astroturfing originates from a brand of a company called AstroTurf that produces synthetic grass. It means that, if we think of a group of people as real grass, by doing astroturfing, we strive to convince others that the synthetic grass we have is actually real. So we create a fake group of people and present it as if it is real. Astroturfing is a very effective method, and it’s almost impossible to prove it even if we notice it.
Crowdsourcing, as the name suggests, is the method of using a crowd or a group of people as a source. Amazon’s microtasks and Wikipedia’s common goods are good examples of this method. Nowadays, a lot of companies and organizations use this method quite commonly. That’s because there are always a few people who want to give a hand for no benefit. But it doesn’t mean that the crowdsourcing method brings nothing to the working class. We often don’t even realize that we are involved in a crowdsourcing plan. However, some of these companies tell us their big plans and involve us with the promise of letting us make some money. Yandex’s Toloka system is one of them. It’s possible to earn some money by doing some boring works of Yandex. And you’ll be a part of the crowdsourcing system of them if you do it.
As we mentioned before, crowdturfing is a combination of astroturfing and crowdsourcing. Well, you can present a fake message as real using an artificial audience by astroturfing, and you can get the help of a real audience by crowdsourcing. So what does it mean for these two to come together? By crowdturfing, you can support an artificial audience with a real audience, making a fake message much more realistic than before. That’s why crowdturfing is a new updated version of astroturfing. And like every new update, it comes with a new feature, which is crowdsourcing. So we can say that if we subtract crowdsourcing from crowdturfing, we’ll have astroturfing.
Long story short, the main difference that separates the terms crowdturfing and astroturfing from each other is the term crowdsourcing. So, the term crowdturfing with the crowdsourcing creates a much more powerful and effective view of the term astroturfing. Therefore, even if you find out that someone is doing crowdturfing, it is almost impossible to beat them, as they do this with an artificial audience supported by a real audience. Consequently, crowdturfing is much more dangerous than its old version astroturfing.