Ashley Madison is an online dating agency with a difference. Instead of focusing on the singles market, it provides its services to wannabee adulterers by inviting them to subscribe to their site and to post details about themselves, and the service helps pair up the wannabee adulterer with interested matches.
Their US registered trademark is ‘Life is short – have an affair’. How that passed the morality limitations is anyone’s guess. I expect that ‘purgatory is long and painful’ Or ‘Hell is Hot, Have an Affair’ are less effective advertising slogans.
Apart from eternal damnation, the service also has other risks. If would be adulterers profiles and perhaps, revealing photos are made available to suitable partners on line, it is not inconceivable that the would be adulterer and their bored spouse or his/her friends may simply be paired up by the service provider. One imagines that a private detective could easily discover identity of users, as could potential partners deciding that blackmail someone is more attractive a proposition than having an affair.
One imagines that blackmailers might intentionally subscribe, use attractive images obtained elsewhere, and fictitious profiles to describe themselves in order to identify targets.
In the past, people have left their computers logged on to compromising websites and have been discovered by their spouses. It has happened before and will happen again.
Ashley Madison has been hacked. Their 37 million anonymous users and estimated 170,000 Israeli users have been wholesale compromised. Not to worry, though. Ashley Madison thinks that they can use copyright law for damage limitation. There is an interesting analysis of why this doesn’t work in Fortune. See here.
The internet has changed many things, but many others stay the same. Intimate relationships have consequences. Always have and always will. Remaining anonymous when compromised and open to blackmail is far from certain.
I think the affair is likely to be short but the consequences may last much longer.