One communication approach that lately has become more common is astroturfing, which has been more prominent since the proliferation of social media platforms. In this context, astroturfing is a fake grass-roots political campaign that aims to manipulate a certain audience. This exploratory research examined how effective astroturfing is in mitigating citizens’ natural defenses against politically persuasive messages. An experimental method was used to examine the persuasiveness of social media messages related to coal energy in their ability to persuade citizens’, and increase their level of nationalism. The results suggest that citizens are more likely to be persuaded by an astroturfed message than people who are exposed to a non-astroturfed message, regardless of their political leanings. However, the messages were not successful in altering an individual’s nationalistic views at the moment of exposure. The authors discuss these findings and propose how in a long-term context, astroturfing is a dangerous addition to persuasive communication.
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