Thursday 14 March 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 14/3/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Sign of the times: The age of disinformation

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Sasha Issenberg

Everything in moderation

It’s easy to find disinformation online: text that claims something happened that didn’t; deepfake videos produced with artificial intelligence; and conspiracy theories that have the power to destabilise governments. It’s difficult, however, to maintain a proper sense of proportion. Many newsrooms now have a disinformation beat enlisted to verify outlandish claims from various corners of the internet. But it is unclear whether this material is reaching large numbers of people susceptible to its influence.

For social-media companies whose platforms host these falsehoods, questions about their reach or effects should be moot. Posts seen by 10 people and those seen by millions need to be equally moderated. The same should go for governments contemplating regulatory schemes.

Joe Biden’s last presidential campaign conducted a big research project into which viral stories might influence a small share of voters with changeable opinions. The campaign named those viral articles worthy of concern “market-moving”. The media should bring this level of perspective to its coverage of disinformation too.

Sasha Issenberg is Monocle’s US politics correspondent and author of ‘The Lie Detectives: In Search of a Playbook for Winning Elections in the Disinformation Age’, published this week by Columbia Global Reports. For more opinion, analysis and insight subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Staying afloat? The Aukus security partnership

Image: Getty Images

Defence / Australia, UK & USA

Balancing the books

Doubt has been cast over the Aukus security partnership between the US, UK and Australia after Washington announced its latest defence budget. Under the initial 2021 agreement, Australia planned to buy US/UK-designed nuclear-powered submarines to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region. But the construction of these vessels is a lengthy process, so the US had prepared to sell some of its Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the interim.

This week, however, the US Department of Defense halved its 2025 construction budget for these submarines as a result of limited shipbuilding capacity. “We’re looking at a shipbuilding industry in both the UK and the US that is already overstretched,” Marion Messmer, senior research fellow in International Security at Chatham House, tells The Globalist on Monocle Radio. “US shipyards are at capacity and are having a hard time staying on track. There are concerns that the additional Aukus submarines will stretch existing resources even further.”

For the latest on the Aukus partnership deal, tune in to Wednesday’s edition of The Globalist on Monocle Radio.

Mobility / Singapore & Malaysia

Code on the road

In a bid to streamline border crossing, Singapore is introducing a new system that will allow drivers to enter the country using a QR code instead of a passport. The initiative is part of the new Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone, established by Malaysia in January to boost the flow of goods and people across the Johor Strait. More than 300,000 Malaysian commuters cross the border into Singapore every day, making it one of the busiest crossings in the region. The use of QR codes is expected to cut down waiting times, reducing congestion by as much as 30 per cent. The measure is a significant step towards modernising border control – and, crucially, one that will help thousands of commuters save time on their journey home.


Fashion / France

Skirting the runway

In recent years an increasing number of designers and brands have chosen to abandon fashion-week shows to present new products on their own terms. Take Hedi Slimane, creative director of Paris-based brand Celine, who chose to opt out of the fashion-week format again this year and, instead, debut the brand’s autumn/winter 2024 collection on film. It highlighted the people and places that have influenced his designs, including photographer Richard Avedon and art deco landmarks such as Paris’s Salle Pleyel and Musée Bourdelle.

The new collection, with its range of skirt suits, is a nod to the 1960s – the period that the company describes as its golden age. At the runway show, those with a trained eye might have noticed that all of the models wore the same shade of pale rose on their lips. It was a subtle way for Slimane to introduce Celine Beauté, the company’s first venture into cosmetics, which will launch in 2025 with 15 lipstick shades. It’s an ambitious move that highlights Celine’s growing importance in the LVMH portfolio.

Beyond the Headlines

Frank Strachan / ‘Crotch Magazine’

Under the cover

Frank Strachan is not only a stylist for stars such as Kylie Minogue but also the founder of Crotch Magazine, a men’s swimwear and underwear magazine that celebrates sexual liberation. Here, Strachan tells Monocle about the latest issue, his collaboration with Ramon Christian and nudity in print.

Tell us about ‘Crotch Magazine’.
We have made 10 issues of the magazine. The most recent is a special that was shot in California. Before that, all the issues featured beautiful photographs of men in and out of underwear and swimwear. For me, it’s not a serious thing; it’s about escapism and fun.

How did your collaboration with photographer Ramon Christian come to be?
I hadn’t met him in person until about a year and a half ago. I was in Los Angeles at a show at the Hollywood Bowl. He met me for breakfast and we talked about work. He was a dancer before he was a photographer. I do a lot of work in the performance world and I’ve always loved his photos. His dance background gives him a special understanding of how to capture the human body and what men can do.

Do you think that there is space for nudity in print on newsstands today?
If we are talking about pornography, then this market has been diminished. Who needs to buy such a magazine now? Crotch Magazine is a curated product of beautifully taken artistic images for readers to look at. You can find similar images on social media but there is a difference in experiencing them on a printed page.

For our full interview with Frank Strachan, as well as a discussion about eroticism in print, tune in to this week’s episode of ‘The Stack’ on Monocle Radio.

Monocle Films / Retail

Sharp dressing at The Decorum

The Bangkok-based retailer and fashion label was recognised as the top emerging fashion outpost in Monocle’s inaugural Retail Awards. We meet co-founder and creative director Sirapol Ridhiprasart to talk about dressing The Decorum way. The brand’s silhouettes blend Thai style with classic British footwear, Japanese tailoring and more.


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