What is Ashley Madison?

Ashley Madison has recently become a household name because of a controversy relating to the hacking of the website and its servers. As we get all the news, it is always best to start off with an introduction to this scandal.

Ashley Madison is a paid online dating service based in Canada, but its main draw is that it is targeted for married or committed users who want to look for flings or affairs with people other than their partners. Its tagline, “Life is short. Have an affair”, drew criticism from many people who likened the slogan to a simplistic description of a morally questionable practice.  It has become an evolved part of the contemporary internet ecosystem, where positive websites lie alongside morally questionable websites like Ashley Madison.

The website name came from two of the most popular female names, Ashley & Madison, and does not pertain to an existing or real person.  Men and women register on the site and browse the site’s database for potential matches.  After an initial online conversation, they meet up for a date and begin the affair.

In just a few years, the site has attained a staggering 33 million users.  On the 15th of July, the site was threatened by an anonymous hacker collective that its data, including users’ personal information, would be released to the public unless the site was shut down.  The site refused to close down, and as a result, the threat became real and the personal information of all the users was released to the web.

Over the days and weeks that followed, users whose data have been compromised have gotten multiple blackmails and threats about exposing their profiles as well as their sexual preference in public. The data leak compromises a lot of people, who fear that the leak could cause them their jobs, their marriages, their social status, loss of respect, and potential legal chaos that will ensue.

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