by Natalie Finn | Tue., Aug. 25, 2015 4:13 PM
So there are a lot more creeps out there than we originally thought...
Though "creep" probably isn't the word to describe everybody. The 37 million alleged Ashley Madison users (aka bored people who were just curious) revealed by the massive data breach and subsequent leak of the extramarital-hookup site's customer info also indicates that there are way more unhappy married people out there than we could have possibly guessed.
And we deal mainly in celebrity breakups, so we know from "irreconcilable differences"!
The latest names to be linked to Ashley Madison, thanks to some sites' apparent need to flag every last bold-faced name or institution they can find, encompass the worlds of reality TV, social-media celebrity, government, journalism and beyond. So far. It's only been a few days, but the tentacles seem to be reaching ever further.
It was asked when Sony Entertainment's emails were plundered, with the juiciest bits making headlines and all of them ending up on Wikileaks, whether the media should be reporting on what amounted to ill-gotten gains. The media consensus was that the pertinent Sony headlines shed light on the inner workings of a billion-dollar industry and that the actions being scrutinized were those made by very public figures. Made in private, but...greater good, you know?
But what of these poor fools who turned up on Ashley Madison, some of whom are begging ignorance and identity theft—or that they were only just looking and totally forgot that they had entered their email info on the site. (Question: Even if one day you're surprised to get an email from Pottery Barn, do you, when pressed, have zero memory of signing up for Pottery Barn emails? Really, can't even picture yourself doing it?)
Because they expected privacy (just as people who stupidly text or email people who aren't their significant others expect those people to keep their dirty little secrets) does that mean they've been wronged?
Well, to an extent they have, because they expected one thing from a service and got something quite different. But we can only imagine how awful it feels to stumble upon the existence of said account in your own home—or a million times worse, read about it online. So many lies exposed at once.
And of course there will be people on the site who didn't actually do anything, as there are on all dating websites, but chances are that more than 36.9 million of the reported 37 million users will never be revealed because... people will stop talking about this. The dig will be called off eventually.
But the exposure of the inner workings of Ashley Madison do, in a twisted way, affect the greater good, because it's been beyond fascinating (did we say fascinating, make that terrifying) to see just how many people used, tried to use or just wanted to know more about a site that encourges people to have an affair. Massive hack turned sociological exposé.
As for the increasing number of public figures being linked to the site—what did we say about leaving a digital footprint? Not one of you is too slick to not get caught with your pants down or your skirt up.
And let's also just speculate for a second that a whole bunch of workaday Ashley Madison users were totally rooting for the lesser of fates for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. (You know, the one involving treason charges and prison.) Because Snowden bashers and general proponents of NSA wiretapping explained it away by saying, well, I have nothing to hide, so let 'em listen!
(Some people truly do have nothing to hide, but even they might get their credit card numbers stolen after shopping at Home Depot. The internet is a fickle place.)
Moreover, as Josh Duggar admitting to cheating after being linked to Ashley Madison and Sam Rader confirming he once had an account proved—hypocrisy runs thick. And not only should people keep their opinions about personal values to themselves anyway, not least when they're chronically engaged in contradictory behavior, they also shouldn't be so surprised to find out they can't have it both ways.
Perfect world, we're just saying.
As of Tuesday, at least five reported breach of contact lawsuits have been filed, four anonymously and one a class-action suit filed in Canada spearheaded by a man who identified himself and is asking for $578 million in damages, insisting in his complaint that he never cheated on his now-late wife and only signed up briefly after she died of breast cancer.
All heartbreaking and all part of the big circle of suck now revolving around Ashley Madison, which yesterday expressed its gratitude to authorities for their thorough investigation into the data breach and subsequent fallout.
"In the very best interest of our customers, who have been affected by this malicious act, we are firmly committed to fully assisting these law enforcement and investigative authorities, without reserve," parent company Avid Life Media said in a statement. "Because of this active and ongoing investigation, there is little more we can provide at this time to the media and the public."
Per ABC News, Ashley Madison reported $115.5 million in revenue last year, so while it's got deep pockets, having to pay out hundreds of million in judgments or settlements should these lawsuits move forward might put a damper on the party.
We've heard commercials for the site on satellite radio that try to make it sound as though it can be fun for the whole family (translation: "don't be devastated that your spouse wants to stray—now you both can and everybody wins!") or, better yet, that user privacy is paramount.
And with the latter shot to hell...everybody loses.
We can really only hope at this point that the merely curious still outnumber the creeps.
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