You probably heard that Ashley Madison, the online dating site for cheaters, was hacked last week by a group known as Impact Team. Since 2001, 37 million people have created accounts on Ashley Madison, and the hackers stole millions of those users' personal data—including their names, addresses, credit card information, and specific kinks. So far, two users have been publicly outed, including a man in Ontario who had paid Ashley Madison to delete his profile years ago.
A lot of people say this is just #karma, but invading people's privacy is not cool and it's undeniable that shit is starting to get really real for Ashley Madison users. So we reached out to one Ashley Madison user, who previously wrote for VICE about what he learned from using the site, to get his reaction to the hack and what, if any, knowledge he's gained since the news broke.
VICE: So, that hack. What were your initial thoughts?
Ashley Madison User: When I found out, my initial reaction was to google "Ashley Madison Hack Data" every 20 minutes or so, just to keep up with what was being released. My wife isn't particularly into tech and isn't likely to find out by accident, but if my name's out there, I need to be the first to know.
Have you calmed down about it at all?
Still checking regularly.
Do you know if any of your personal data is being shared? You can check here.
Nothing so far. Honestly, having my name on a list of 37 million people doesn't bother me that much. Having it in the local paper is more of a worry.
Which of your personal data feels the most sensitive to you?
All I care about is whether my name is made public, and [if] someone tells my wife. Otherwise, I have a very relaxed attitude to my personal information. I don't give a shit if some hacker knows what weird sexual stuff I'm into—I just don't want to have to get divorced. At least not while my mother's still alive.
Is there any part of you that feels relieved the hack happened?
Hell no. I'd happily stab the little shits who did this.
Has your wife talked about the hack at all?
No. I doubt she knows that Ashley Madison exists.
What about lovers you've met through AM?
No. After 18 months of being a cheating scumbag, I saw the error of my ways, and stopped. Actually, I came perilously close to getting caught, which bought the error of my ways into sharp focus. I haven't stayed in touch with anyone from AM.
Has your partner caught you cheating before?
My last AM affair ended up with me getting blackmailed. I had to instruct an attorney to scare her off with threats of legal action, which worked. That's the closest I've come to getting caught, and it was enough to scare me straight.
That sucks. Anyway, do you think the hack will impact you at all?
Only if my name gets published. If it does, I'm fucked. My wife—entirely reasonably—wouldn't see the funny side of me cruising the internet for sex.
Yeah. So, have you deleted your profile?
That ship has sailed. No point deleting it now.
Are you taking any other steps to retain your privacy?
No. Just not cheating.
For you, what's the most ideal outcome of this situation?
That AM pays someone to kill the hackers. Or that Western Europe suddenly experiences some kind of cataclysmic event, and in the post-apocalyptic society that emerges afterwards my cheating matters less than the daily fight for survival.
What about other AM users. You think they'll continue to use it?
Do men shit on the pope, etc.
If they leave, where did you think they'll go next for discreet hookups?
No idea. Not my world anymore.
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