Karma, sometimes, really is a bitch.
In 2011, a peculiar dating site targeted only to "beautiful men and women"—whatever that means—claimed that a computer virus let 30,000 "ugly people" sign up and "invade" the service. The site, called BeautifulPeople.com, trumpeted the claim in a press release at the time. Countless media outlets eagerly reported what sounded like an irresistible story. But as it turned out, the story was likely made up in a strange, but effective, attempt to gather media attention.
Now, five years later, BeautifulPeople.com has really been hacked, exposing a heap of highly personal information on 1.1 million of the site' users.
As part of the signup process, the site asks users to provide details such as sexual preference, income, home address, relationship status, physical attributes, personal descriptions, and even what car they owned or whether they owned a house, according to security researcher Troy Hunt, who's reviewed and verified the data breach. All that information is now reportedly being traded and sold on the dark web.
BeautifulPeople.comApril 10, 2016
For its marketing stunt in 2011, BeautifulPeople claimed that something called the "Shrek Virus" allowed 30,000 unattractive people to bypass its rating system, which lets existing users "vet" and vote on new users based on their looks before letting them into the service.
"We got suspicious when tens of thousands of new members were accepted over a six-week period, many of whom were no oil painting," Greg Hodge, the company's managing director, said at the time.
The Shrek Virus, however, wasn't real, according to security expert Graham Cluley, who was the first to call bullshit on the site's claims. Almost five years later, Cluley said he still has to see any evidence of that virus.
"Hey, maybe their data breach is a publicity stunt too?"
"Of course it didn't exist," Cluley told Motherboard. "[It was] just a silly publicity stunt."
"Hey, maybe their data breach is a publicity stunt too?" he added, jokingly. "Maybe their internal experts who analysed the Shrek virus didn't uncover its secret code that would leak their database years later."
BeautifulPeople.com did not respond to a request for comment.