But sometimes they are true.
For example, WikiLeaks has confirmed (or at least gave even more credible evidence for) a few long-suspected facts.
A second example: a few months ago it was revealed that the popular social media site Digg was being gamed by a group of conservative users, who would "bury" any stories that didn't match their political ideology. (This may well happen the other way round, of course, and it may just be that the liberals have better watchdogs. My point here is not political.)
And now corporate emails stolen and published by Anonymous from US cyber-security firm HBGary Federal confirm another conspiracy: corporations and governments employ sophisticated software operated by paid shills to manipulate hundreds (probably thousands or tens of thousands) of "sockpuppets" in an effort to sway online debate through misinformation and spin. For corporations and governments to employ propagandists pretending to be honest members of the public is nothing new. What is new in this revelation is credible confirmation of the scale and technical complexity involved in such operations. The emails reveal some of the specifications of custom-designed software enabling a single person to operate dozens of discrete online personas, each with pre-developed online history, IP address and automated posting of talking points across a large number of sites.
It has been clear for some time that sites like the Guardian face a coordinated effort to bury certain topics in misinformation. Stories that contain particular key words (such as "climate") frequently get deluged with strangely similar critical comments, often within minutes of the story going live. But to have confirmation that denier bots are real means that I'm uncertain whether to be more worried at the degree of cynical manipulation that corporate and government interests are willing to go to in pursuit of their agendas, or more relieved that the segment of the general population who actually believe and promote the claims being made by these denier bots is smaller than previously thought.
"And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
- John 8.32 (NRSV).