Ashley Madison and the naked truth of social media data

Ashley Madison

Life is short. Have an affair – Ashley Madison, converses the theory that suggests, couples PDAing on social media are happier offline. The not so 100% discreet infidelity social network foregrounds, not only grey, but the bleeding red of internet.

Data fallacy is ritualistic, so why the fuss over Ashley Madison? Leaked data is sized more than 60 GB and appears to be “very, very legit” expressed ex-NSA staffer David Kennedy. Names, credit card details, PayPal passwords and users’ very guts – lay slaughtered across the internet. Goriest part – this happens after a promise of discreet encounters and SSL Secure Site.

Additionally, premiums users were charged $19 to get their data deleted from Ashley Madison servers. Did you know that one of the email IDs belonged to former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair?

Ironically, Ashley Madison and its users stand at crossroads, much on the likes of a failed marriage, with both spouses looking for infidelity.

It may come as a surprise, but this is just the grey area of data breach by social networks. The bleeding red awaits you.

When rats followed the pied piper…

Ashley Madison actually charged men to have an affair. According to Wikipedia, to initiate a conversation, a user (who is “almost mostly a man”) has to pay five credits.

While the follow up communications by either of the members are free, the real time chat option requires men to use credits after a certain number of messages.

Women can send messages for free, but male users need to pay to access them. To delete the Ashley Madison account users had to pay an additional fee.

It is also stated that Ashley Madison regularly created computer generated female profiles to flat line the gender imbalance on the website.

Was it the promise of passionate sex or the kink of adultery that made so many users opt for paid affairs; we shall never know.

In a world of cyber crime, how can internet dwellers trust a social networking site, which does not demand email verification?

Yes, for all you know Tony Blair got Ashley Madisoned, with no such intent whatsoever.

The benefit of doubt

Yes, we’re giving a benefit of doubt to a site built for adultery; from a business point of view of course.

Ashley Madison’s open stance on double dealing, lead to both brands and media steering away from the platform. Major internet giants such as Google and Facebook refused to host ads by Ashley Madison. In fact, Noel Biderman’s other social networks including Cougar Life also had to bear the heat with, Facebook banning all communications with the word Cougar in it.

Biderman ran into a financial crunch couple of times due to traditional advertising options turning futile towards him. In 2009, NBC refused to air Ashley Madison’s ad for Super Bowl XLIII, which had cost Biderman quite a fortune.

Such rejections continued over the years, leaving Biderman with very little scope to monetise the platform through any other means.

When they can do it; why can’t we?

If you think Ashley Madison is the only network to disturb personal data, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Hope you have not forgotten Facebook’s Maruder’s Map, a Google Chrome extension that allowed people to stalk a Facebook messenger user to its very precise location. I won’t even spend a minute on the data risks of other geo targeted apps such as Grindr and Tinder.

Snapchat, known for its disappearing photos, too, was accused of not deleting data from the user’ cell phones. The situation caught fire in 2014, when hack forums claimed that unknown parties had created a file holding over 100,000 stolen Snapchat photos.

While this data breach might be of a completely different kind, it as lethal.

From red to crimson

Data breach stands not a level below a bleeding heart. A website that took to a tabooed element; hactivists who decided to become self acclaimed judges – the battle however, was lost by millions of Ashley Madison users.

The accident brings forth loopholes in the entire cyber universe.

A social network who took security too complacently in spite of dealing with a sensitive TG; users who trusted too easily desspite clear warning bells; authorities who refused to give Ashley Madison a fair chance.

A number of theorists believe that 3rd world war will be a fight of power, technology and internet. If no lessons learnt now; data breach will definitely lead to a severe global casualty soon.


A writer by Karma, grammar Nazi by heart and traveler by hope, Saloni loves to pen about anything under the sun. With six years of journalism experience under her kitty, Saloni has tried hands on various beats including – Social Media, e-commerce, Mobile, Indian radio, Advertising, Food and Travel. Writing for various national and international publications has given Saloni an understanding of the science of social media.