In the Guardian, George Monbiot describes astroturfing. A nugget:
I first came across online astroturfing in 2002, when the investigators Andy Rowell and Jonathan Matthews looked into a series of comments made by two people calling themselves Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek. They had launched ferocious attacks, across several internet forums, against a scientist whose research suggested that Mexican corn had been widely contaminated by GM pollen.
Rowell and Matthews found that one of the messages Mary Murphy had sent came from a domain owned by the Bivings Group, a PR company specialising in internet lobbying. An article on the Bivings website explained that “there are some campaigns where it would be undesirable or even disastrous to let the audience know that your organisation is directly involved … “
The whole thing is worth the four minutes it takes to read it and will leave you
wondering realizing what astroturfers have to hide and why they have to hide it.
Sounds awfully like “bearing false witness” to me.