Traffic lights are major sources of information through which traffic officers regulate the interaction between different road users. Any information mismanagement from traffic officers in showing wrong traffic-light can cause fatal accidents, leading to injuries and deaths. As with traffic information mismanagement, media (social, print or electronic) information mismanagement can have immediate or long-termed harmful effects on the society. Without proper education and measures to evaluate the type of information circulating in a society, people are exposed to danger.
Information mismanagement has led to economic, social and political problems as witnessed when Nigerians drank salt as cure for Ebola. Many marriages, relationships, reputations, military operations, businesses, careers, administrations and prospects have failed due to information mismanagement. Some good products failed to break through due to information mismanagement from competitors or careless information managers. Even in hospitals, information mismanagement leads to erroneous diagnosis, treatment, deaths, harmful disclosures, abuse of people’s privacy, stigmatization and other troubles.
Information are facts or details about somebody or something. Proper information about the world, people and events enlighten and guide humans in their interaction with others and the world. Since humans are social beings, who seek happiness by actualizing their potentials in the society, they require information. They require information for developing their potentials and understanding the society where they live and apply those potentials. Thus, the social purpose of information is to enable people develop their abilities to transform human and natural resources for common good. Acknowledging the importance of information management, Arch-master Ebrose told Samwell Tarly: “We are the memories of the world, without us men will be little better than dogs; don’t remember any meal but the last, can’t see forward to any but the next”. Knowledge (correct information) has become a central capital and basic resource of nations’ economy and military strength.
Information management could be defined, following its social purpose of common good, as providing enough information for people’s wellbeing and development, and protecting enough information for people’s safety. Information management is important in guiding people to make right decisions and act rightly towards progress. It involves knowing how, when, to who and through who information should be passed to achieve safety, harmony and progress. Information management becomes more vital in a society as some information advance social wellbeing, while others cause panic and disharmony.
Contrarily, information mismanagement implies disclosing information that could lead to individual or social disorder. It includes unduly exposing classified or private information, providing exaggerated, incomplete, one-sided, unverified, defamatory, inciting, fallacious or obviously false reports. Because of the controversy they generate, such information receive wide attention and spread fast in the society. Hence, their effects on the society are dangerously explosive and often impossible to redeem.
The efficiency in spreading information improved greatly with the increase of communication gadgets in this internet age. With an internet-enabled phone, watch, eyeglass or laptop, people can gather and distribute information across the globe in few seconds. Through this media, people obtain information for saving lives, avoiding problems, improving skills, health, relationship and practical knowledge. Yet, some writers, bloggers, professional and self-made journalists, investigators, consultants, analysts and counsellors mismanage information using the media. To get the traffic, some people form or spread unverified stories, theories, gossips or classified information without considering their social or individual consequences. Some people present unproven health tips, misleading study guides and generally misleading information to the society.
To reduce the occurrence and harmful effects of information mismanagement, a government may take the following steps:
- Educate the people on the purposes of information, which are to develop oneself, understand the society, impact the society and live safely in the society. This education also equips people with tools of logical reasoning and verification to evaluate the information they receive before sharing. Lastly, it helps people to appreciate the effects of information mismanagement.
- Provide timely information to avoid misinformation: When people who should provide right information fail to do so, other people take advantage of the situation. Hence, responsible governments provide necessary information at the right time, to save people from possible exploitation.
- Readjust the society to engage people’s time and creativity in developing their society. An idle mind is a devil’s football field, but a positively busy mind is a womb of productive ideas. The unproductivity enshrined in Nigeria’s style of governance promotes restless speculation and idle citizenship. Britain formed Nigeria by yoking unconsented people together under a militarised government that seizes and auctions different people’s mineral resources. In return, government imports and shares foreign goods and services to the people as dividends of democracy. Hence, instead of researching to create wealth from their seized resources, Nigerians struggle to obtain foreign goods and money. Presently, Nigerians idly wait for government to share oil-money so we fight and gossip about who got more and how they spent it.
- Identify and educate the major stakeholders in the society’s information spreading on the ethics of information management in the society. This encourages information spreaders to consider the outcome of their information on the society. Also, it urges information managers to be careful about the content, context, details and effects of the information they spread. And also to hold the different sources of information in the society for proper responsibility for their messages.
- Formulate policies to guide and correct people whose eagerness to break news leads to violation of people’s privacy, harmful deception and social disorder. Thus, people will be made to take responsibility for the effects of their information mismanagement.
The mass media can create a mood in which people become keen to acquire knowledge, skills and disciplines of advanced countries. Without these, we can never hope to raise the standard of living of our people.
Lee Kwan Yew, From third world to first world, p.190
Yet “The worst of our faults is our interest in other people’s faults” Ali Ibn Abi Talib
 Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, International Student’s Edition. S. V. Information
 Game of thrones Season 7: episode 1
 Peter Drucker
 Drew Robb, “Lifting The Curse Of Information Mismanagement” in Forbes, May 27, 2014. https://www.forbes.com/sites/emc/2014/05/27/lifting-the-curse-of-information-mismanagement/#10f7fa0b1cad