AshleyMadison.com offers married people the opportunity to meet others online interested in cheating on their spouses. With the brash motto, “Life is Short, Have an Affair,” the website prides itself on being the most famous name in infidelity, and with 37 million members, claims to be the second largest paid dating website in the world.
In a breaking July scandal, the hidden adult playground of Ashley Madison is about to be brought into public view as a group of hackers threaten to release the real names and activities of all its members. Are millions of wronged spouses about to file for divorce? Will Ashley Madison have to change its slogan to “Life is Short, Hacks are Forever?”
It’s All in the Salacious Details
The hack has caused tremendous concern for members of Ashley Madison because of the exposure of their private information. Simply being a member strongly implies infidelity on the part of a married person. To make matters worse, the user profiles contain explicit details such as sexual preferences, fantasies, and often nude photos. It is believed the hackers also stole information on each user’s activities on the site as well as copies of messages between users. This would allow the hackers to reveal every encounter an Ashley Madison member had.
Can We Expect Millions of New Divorces?
Some media reports about the Ashley Madison hack have included interviews with divorce lawyers who say they are preparing for a massive surge of new cases if the information is made public. It’s not hard to imagine what the fallout could be from this event. All the hackers have to do is post a list of the member’s real names and addresses online and husbands and wives all over the world will suddenly discover that their spouse has been cheating on them. In that circumstance immediately contacting a divorce attorney would not be a surprising next move.
While the Ashley Madison hack makes for dramatic headlines, it is simply the latest chapter in a continuing story of online activities becoming part of modern divorce. References to Facebook and other social media networks are becoming increasingly more common in divorce filings. The internet makes it increasingly easier for people to have a digital life separate from their marriage, a life where they can connect with past relationships or meet new people. While Ashley Madison may brand itself as THE affair website, spouses have been using the internet to cheat almost since its introduction into modern life.
So what’s the take-away from the Ashley Madison hack? It is possible that the hackers will ultimately not reveal the Ashley Madison members to the public (and that divorce lawyers of the world will not wake up to millions of new clients), the threat is out there. Whatever happens now it’s clear that modern divorce is intricately tied to what we all do online, and that while the outcome has yet to be revealed, millions of “anonymous” members of Ashley Madison all over the world are holding their breath and waiting.