Danish dating site BeautifulPeople.com has unceremoniously dumped 30,000 "ugly" users, claiming they were only given access to the site because of a computer virus. Here, a guide to the matchmaking mess-up:
What is this dating site?
It's an exclusive site in which users hoping to join "submit photographs to the site, which are then voted on by its 700,000 existing members," according to Hilary Moss at The Huffington Post. Only those deemed attractive enough get to stay. "Men will vote on women based solely on how they look...surprise, surprise," says the site's managing director, Greg Hodge, as quoted by The Huffington Post. "Women look at the bigger overall picture; yes, the men have to be attractive, but they also have to write a reasonably articulate profile description, show a little character or sense of humor. A high income also helps, as does a picture showing a good lifestyle."
And what happened with the 30,000 "ugly" members?
"We got suspicious when tens of thousands of new members were accepted over a six-week period, many of whom were no oil painting," says Hodge in a press release. The site says it was attacked by a computer virus, eventually named Shrek, that approved the new members even though they "hadn't been attractive enough to get approval the traditional way," says Graeme McMillan at TIME.
So the site just kicked out those users?
Yes. To correct the "ugly invasion," these new members were removed from the site. The rejection "must be a bitter pill to swallow, but better to have had a slice of heaven then never to have tasted it at all," says Hodge. "We can’t just sweep 30,000 ugly people under the carpet."
Did the site do anything else for those it dumped?
The booted members were issued refunds, costing the site $112,000. And they were offered a counseling hotline to "help them through the trauma," says McMillan. With that show of "unprecedented kindness and acceptance" by the site, "the cosmos has been righted," says Jen Doll at The Village Voice, "because for beautifuls and non-beautifuls to intermingle would be too difficult for everyone. Think of the children!"
Is this for real?
It may all just be a publicity stunt, including the alleged virus attack. "My suspicion is that this is more likely to be a publicity stunt by BeautifulPeople than to have any basis in truth, and the world's media are falling for it," says Graham Cluley of computer security firm Sophos. The dating site has a history of baiting the press with sensational news releases, and the details about the virus attack here are just a little too convenient. "My bet is that BeautifulPeople has just come up with its latest publicity stunt — and you know what? It's worked."