Global fertility decline could lead to 'demographic time bomb' by 2100


IN THE PAPERS - Thursday, July 16: We look at reactions in the press to Twitter falling victim to a "catastrophic" hacking scam which targeted high-profile companies and individuals, including Joe Biden. Also, a new study warns of a global fertility decline that could halve populations in some countries by 2100. Vanity Fair features the work of a black photographer on its front cover for the first time in its history. Finally, a new video project lets you travel without leaving your home!


We start with Twitter's massive hack in which Bitcoin scammers took over the accounts of Apple, Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Kanye West but also Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and duped people into sending tens of thousands of dollars. The website The Verge calls it the most catastrophic security breach in company history, while noting that the events were set in motion years ago and enabled in part because of Twitter's slow response to previous threats like when Musk's account was taken over in 2018. The writer condemns Twitter's "ham-fisted" response on Wednesday and says the scam shows the striking potential of Twitter to "incite real-world chaos through impersonation and fraud". A writer at the conservative news website Washington Examiner is more categorical. Shut down Twitter, she says, at least until it figures out "what the hell is going on". It has a massive security problem that needs to be fixed but for the moment, it needs to pause the site's functionality, according to her. 

Moving on now to a report out this week by the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet that warns of a catastrophic decline in global fertility. A decline that may lead to a demographic time bomb, that's how one website puts it. This report really gives us a peek into what the next 80 years look like. Twenty-three countries including Japan and Italy will see their population halved, as women opt out of having babies or choose to have fewer amid a growing ageing popualation. On the other hand, Nigeria could grow to 791 million people by 2100 and become the second most populous country behind India, which is expected to take over China. By the end of the century, these three countries and the US will be the dominant powers, while Europe and Asia will recede in influence. The editor-in-chief of the report says this is a truly new world that we must begin preparing for now.

To the fashion world now where the cover of Vanity Fair magazine has featured the work of a black photographer for the first time on its front page. It's hard to fathom, but in its 107-year history, Vanity Fair has never featured a black photographer until now on its cover, even if it has featured black celebrities before on its front page. Dario Calmez has immortalised Emmy, Oscar and Tony award winner Viola Davis for the upcoming July/August issue. The powerful photo of Davis shot from behind is inspired by the 1863 photo The Scourged Back, of that of Gordon, a man who escaped slavery but whose back was scarred by repeated whippings. Calmez said he wanted to reclaim the narrative and "transmute the white gaze on black suffering into the black gaze of grace, elegance and beauty."

Finally, a new initiative aims to allow people to travel without leaving their homes in these strange post-lockdown times! Many of us do have to accept that carefree long-distance travel may not be possible for some months to come. In place, a new video project can virtually transport you. It's called Window Swap and it was created by two advertising creatives based in Singapore. The idea is that you submit a short video from your balcony or window. So far they've received videos from as far as Medellin in Colombia to La Baule in France… it's not only fun to see how people live but it's also incredibly calming, with relaxing sounds like rain and bird chirping as well.

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