Can the Daily Mail and online dating really be soulmates?

 by Martin Belam, 28 February 2009

Yesterday, Jemima Kiss mocked the Daily Mail's online dating service:

"Single? Lonely? Bitter? Having trouble finding a life partner who hates immigrants, bleeding heart liberals, the BBC, Gordon Brown, hoodies, TV filth, feminists, Channel 4, the loony left, rip-off Britain, feral children, the French, the PC brigade, yobs, lesbians, single mothers, the Euro and Jonathan Ross quite as much as you?"

It didn't take very long at all for a few comments on the article to point out that it seemed a bit harsh, given that The Guardian runs Soulmates.

"Having trouble finding a life partner who hates, Jews, Americans, cars, white people, middle class people, heterosexuals, religion, Sterling, Jeremy Clarkson, anyone to the right of Hugo Chavez, marriage, morality and fun? Try Guardian Soulmates!"
Guardian Soulmates

I thought there was at least one clear difference between the two, though. The Guardian hasn't just spent the previous couple of weeks running big splash stories suggesting that trying to contact people online is dangerous because using social applications online gives you cancer or makes you depressed or re-wires your children's brains.

Daily Mail Facebook harm stories

The Mail does have form in this area of conflict between editorial line and commercial priorities.

Let us not forget that the paper that brought us this story about the dangers of gambling - "284,000 Britons are gambling addicts - 'and it'll get worse'" - also promotes a Mail branded online gambling site.

There was also this Daily Mail story about the dangers of online gambling - "Online gambler blows £158,000 of parents' money in 50 minutes".

And this one - "The internet bookies turning women and children into addicts".

And this one - "Labour's reforms will suck children into Net gambling, say experts"

And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one which also throws pr0n into the mix for good measure. You get the picture...

I think my favourite bit of the introduction to the Mail's very own online gambling site is this:

"Step 4: Fund your account
Step 5: Have fun!"
Step 6: Profit!

Presumably the omission of step 6 - 'we make profit whilst you most likely lose the money you deposited in step 4' - was an oversight.

Just for good measure, if you recall, in 2007 the Mail's gambling site breached the industry's own guidelines on providing information and warnings to vulnerable users, and just a couple of days after the climax of their high profile campaign against supercasinos the Mail had to conveniently make the site disappear for a few days whilst the relevant links and disclaimers were put in place.



I'm a great admirer of your work and the Guardian, so I think it's great you're working together.

You'll be missed in Greece, but I'm sure London is happy to have you back.

I don't like the Wail, but surely it's admirable that commercial policies and the editorial line are distinct?

Keep up to date on my new blog