Breakfast in bed with the Sunday newspapers is a habit that my husband and I engage in regularly. Yesterday, page 15 of The Sunday Times caught my eye instantly! A full page spread, the top heading, huge and in pink stated “High Infidelity”. Smaller print said “what happened when an adultery website was caught with its trousers down”. The story was about the hacking of Ashley Madison’s (Life is Short. Have an Affair) data base of names, financial details and sexual preferences of up to 38m clients. There is such a thing as Karma I gleefully thought!
Stephen, a 44 year old banker, married with three children uses Ashley Madison for affairs and one night stands. Once he knew the site had been compromised he ditched his mobile phone that cannot be traced and erased his adultery ‘dark net’. Whilst some of his friends have confessed to their wives, Stephen is going to take a calculated risk and hope that nothing further materialises. He says the shock has made him realise he has been taking his wife for granted. He goes on to say “I’m done with this crappy lie that infidelity is harmless. It’s deadened me to my own life and I’m refocusing everything into our marriage now. I’ve booked the nanny to cover a weekend while I take Sasha (his wife) away. I told my current fling it was finished before I wiped all my devices. I’m clean for good now” Do you believe him? I want to.
Stephen is one of 1.2m people to have signed up with the site of which 70% are men. Currently women don’t pay to join so their details are not available to hackers. John Lucich, a computer expert and author, interviewed Ashley Madison’s bosses for his book Cyber Lies, one of the first publications to advise spouses on how to tell if their other half is cheating online. He has followed the hackers (Impact Team) with interest. His view is that Biderman the CEO and members like Stephen – had it coming. He believes that it’s the truth that matters and that Ashley Madison had foolishly thought they had nothing that hackers would want. Wrong!
Whether the Impact Team release everything or not the outcome will be interesting.
Elle has written a brilliant blog post at the Betrayed Wives Club which pauses to consider the wives of all these men. Although pleased that something has gone massively awry for a detested organisation and delighted that it might cause some of the subscribers to rethink their behaviour, Elle is sensitive to the impact that disclosure of names and details would have on the wives.
They (the husbands) made the choice to cheat.
But not their wives. They don’t deserve to discover that their husbands have betrayed them by reading about it on the front page of a tabloid. They don’t need the additional pain of having to explain to their children just what Daddy has done and why the kids at school will be whispering. Or to face the embarrassed silence of their colleagues at work.
Of course, she’s right. I agree. Disclosure is a whole issue unto itself and public disclosure just adds to the misery. So I too hope that the Impact Team decide not to release their data. However I do think that the threat of disclosure may have an additional positive outcome as well as prompting men to rethink their infidelity.
A little while ago I wrote a blog post ‘Dating for Adulterers’ about the business growth of Ashley Madison. I was concerned that Ashley Madison had plans to float on the London Stock Exchange this year. It aimed to raise £135m in order to expand its international market. I would like to think that the activities of the Impact Team will make investors question its viability on the market and put a stop to Ashley Madison raising its desired finance. This would be a positive outcome. The Evening Standard reported on July 21st that analysts believe that the website may be forced to scrap its planned £130 million London share flotation after it was the victim of a disastrous (sic) hacking attack.
Dating-industry analyst, and editor of Online Personals Watch, Mark Brooks said: “They’ve hinged their entire existence on privacy. It’s definitely going to affect their IPO plans. It’s going to reduce the value of this company. People prize their privacy on online dating sites. This is compounded 1,000 times on AshleyMadison.com over a typical dating site.”
The same paper reports that “the Impact Team claims to have complete access to the company’s database including user records for every member, but has so far released just limited amounts of data. It says it is prepared to release all customer records unless the site is closed”.
Have the Impact Team been reading our blogs? Is it possible to shut the wretched site down?
But perhaps there are alternative actions that might be taken to close the site? In 2013 Ashley Madison met with staunch opposition in Singapore when its government blocked access to the site because they viewed it as a “flagrant disregard of our family values and public morality.” The minister for social and family development spoke out against the Canada-based website’s planned expansion into the state and said it was “damaging to the institution of marriage”.
Facebook was used to gather steam in this successful protest. The organiser of the Facebook protest, a businessman who has identified himself only as Mr Tan, told Singaporean daily My Paper that Ashley Madison was “a systematic and orchestrated propagation of deteriorating values”.
“We cannot allow (the promotion of extramarital affairs) to become mainstream,” he said.
Interestingly, I recently received an e-mail from a woman who makes some interesting comments with regard to Ashley Madison. She says:
Hi, I just read your latest post and couldn’t agree more. I’m in a similar situation and went through huge triggers this week with the Ashley Madison hack. (My husband used it and I found his messages.)I just wanted to share my idea. I found it made me feel better to report Ashley Madison’s facebook page as a HATE page … and some of the disgusting posts as PORN. Of course Facebook didn’t agree but as I went through the process, I was eventually able to write down my reasoning and submit it. My husband also did this which helped me feel we’re on the same team. This is what I wrote:While Ashley Madison does not specifically target a gender or race, it does promote hate by ridiculing, humiliating and degrading people in monogamous partnerships. Since the male to female ratio is drastically off, this in effect is prejudicial against women. It also promotes abusive behavior as anyone who has found themselves in the trauma of realizing they have been living a lie can tell you. Even worse, it helps inflict trauma on children whose families are dramatically torn apart. With the recent hack into Ashley Madison’s database, its days as a viable company are numbered and more and more members of the public are becoming aware of its extreme anti-social addiction-promoting, degrading and cruel nature. I would hope Facebook would not allow such an organization to promote itself on this site. I am not alone by far.I could have added a lot–such as your story where cheating led to violence. Not to mention the children who enter poverty when families are destroyed….For a while my husband thought the FB page was fake because (and this is funny) it is so sleazy. But I went to the official website and clicked on the FB button, so I believe it is for real.Anyway, if any of the recovery blogs want to share the idea, I think it would be awesome if enough people complained and got it taken down! I understand if there are reasons you don’t want to, though.