Ratcheting cruelty up a notch from its rivals, Mail Online normalises a level of vacuous bitchiness last seen, for most of us, in high school.
That's about right.
I think the article would benefit from setting the success of Mail Online in the wider media context, because it's been a while in the making. This fad for judging and sneering (fuck, I hope it's a fad) entered the mainstream with Big Brother and reality tv. It was gendered through the magazine sector — lads' mags and the rehabilitation of Playboy-style porn on the one hand, Hello! and Heat! on the other. And it became sexualised through cheap-and-sleazy satellite tv channels, beginning with Kelvin McKenzie, cunt of all eternity, and his news-bunny-and-naked-presenter trash.
The sidebar of shame could not exist if Major or Blair had had the courage to draw up a half-decent privacy law. It wasn't for a lack of asking. Clare Short's Page Three bill was proposed even before that, back in the mid-1980s. This isn't a new problem. The internet has only made it worse — the sheer size of the Mail's sidebar is what makes it overwhelming, it's a veritable bombardment of misogyny. What's surprising, perhaps, is that it should be the luddite, pearl-clutching Daily Mail that has reaped the reward. But as the article in the Indy suggested, it's always been Fleet Street's true home for hatred.