When a company is dealing directly with a labour union or an environmental outfit, its top brass often take the easy route, by co-opting the leaders or paying some sort of Danegeld. Until a couple of decades ago, that meant doling out generous union contracts and sticking shareholders, taxpayers or consumers with the bill. More recently, the fashion has been for “corporate social responsibility”. This might involve spending money on a pressure group's pet project; or recruiting prominent activists to a joint committee, dedicated to doing good works.
In the blogosphere, however, a corporation's next big critic could be anyone. He might be an angry customer or a disgruntled employee—though that sort of tie to the company is not essential; nor does he need lots of industry experience or lengthy credentials to be a threat. All a blogger really needs to devastate a company is a bit of information and plausibility, a complaint that catches the imagination and a knack for making others care about his gripe.
From this Economist article.