Crowdturfing, the dark side and usually unnoticed face of crowdsourcing, represents a form of cyber-deception in which workers are paid to express a false digital impression. While such behavior may not be punishable under the jurisdiction of formal law, its consequences are destructive to the cohesion and trustworthiness of online information. The conceptual work at hand examines the current literature on the topic, and lays the foundation for a theoretical framework that explains crowdturfing behavior. We discuss crowdturfing through three ethical normative approaches: traditional philosophical ethics, business ethics, and codified rules. We apply these lenses to an illustrative example of an online platform orchestrating the trade of paid book reviews on Amazon. The study contributes to theory by explaining the ethical logic behind crowdturfing from the perspectives of the key actors involved in the business. We argue that while crowdturfing cannot stand a critical examination through the deontological, stakeholder, or social contract perspectives, leaning on the teleological logic, the stockholder theory, or certain levels of codified rules can enable the actors involved in the business to operate with clean conscience. An increased understanding of the behavior can help both victim platforms and the Internet community at large to combat this hidden industry.
Rinta-Kahila, Tapani and Soliman, Wael, (2017). "UNDERSTANDING CROWDTURFING: THE DIFFERENT ETHICAL LOGICS BEHIND THE CLANDESTINE INDUSTRY OF DECEPTION". In Proceedings of the 25th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), Guimarães, Portugal, June 5-10, 2017 (pp. 1934-1949). ISBN 978-989-20-7655-3 Research Papers.