I used to believe that ‘misuse of power’ is exclusively reserved for petty politicians. I used to believe the political involvement bred these unethical, and often unlawful, bearings. After all, the the Wikipedia entry for ‘Abuse of power’ makes it synonymous with ‘malfeasance in office’. However, I have discovered that misuse of power is not endemic to offices. It is endemic to human nature.
It is endemic to human nature.
The tendency to misuse power lies in the inherent nature of being powerful. As we step up the ladder, the system of checks and balances becomes less robust. Without any combatting or competitive force, the incentives to be true and responsible are scarce. Resistance and opposition enforce ethics. I cannot think of a better reason why politicians metamorphose to the noblest of men immediately before the election cycle.
Resistance and opposition enforce ethics.
But, as I mentioned, misuse of power is not limited to the doors of any single institution, let alone the Parliament. It is more pervasive and prevalent than most of us assume.
A few days ago, SourceFed, a leading comedy cum news oriented YouTube channel, uploaded a video accusing Google of manipulating search results in the favor of Hillary Clinton. However, any sensible person would clearly see that their test cases were cherry picked to result in misleading results. Out of curiosity, not political affiliation, I ran some tests of my own. My observations coincided with my initial suspicions, what many other commenters discovered and what Google responded. SourceFed’s results were largely false.
Of course, mistakes happen. Bad judgement, hasty research and lack of adequate background information all spell such disasters. But, I question the legitimacy of these excuses. Ideally, in a position of power, making mistakes should be harder. Ironically, in many empowered positions, it is apologizing which is easier. While I appreciate the principle of saying sorry, both of these are fundamentally different.
While I appreciate the principle of saying sorry, both of these are fundamentally different.
I do not want to diss SourceFed in particular. I appreciate their response video, though I find it largely inadequate. But, I want to use this case as an illustration of the far reaching consequences of partially considered actions. At the time of writing only one sixth of the viewers of the original video have seen the response video. Hundreds of other news agencies circulated the allegation by using clickbait-y headlines and multiple question marks to signify their amazement. Most of these agencies have not issued any clarification. As a consequence, readers have registered a negative image of Google and Hillary Clinton and that is not diminishing any time soon.
Again, I am not writing this out of political intents. I am writing this out of my infuriation towards the cold hearted neglect of many people and institutions (not just politicians or news channels, but people and institutions of every kind) towards the responsibilities that are accompanied with their positions. I am mildly outraged by the fact that onset of fame and money makes people and institutions lose consideration of the ramifications of their actions, even though in these situations it becomes all the more important for them to uphold their duties.
The solution is simple: place greater value in actions than in people.