Ashley Madison and its users got what they deserved

by Tori Hahn, Contributor

Popular affair-endorsing website Ashley Madison finally got what was coming to it.

The website, which boasts of about 37 million users, was attacked by hackers, which resulted in a catastrophic leak of customer information. Email addresses, cities, birthdates and even physical descriptions of those enrolled on the site were easily accessible by anyone who dared search for their significant other (or perhaps worse, family members).

To add to the shock, Gizmodo editor-in-chief Annalee Newitz found that thousands of women’s profiles on the website weren’t even created by real women, and were instead generated by employees of Ashley Madison.

My problem isn’t with the blatant fraudulent activity of the company, but with the acceptance of adultery in society that is perpetuated by companies like Ashley Madison.

Having an affair is so ubiquitous that society has lost all sensitivity toward the traitorous act — to the point that companies even now aid people in their betrayal.

Ashley Madison and other online dating sites have made it easier now more than ever for people who consider themselves “married but looking.”

Since Ashley Madison’s creation in 2002, dozens of similar pages have popped up, unapologetically offering services to those looking for a little something else outside of their relationships. Sites such as Fling.com, or even more popular services like Match.com, allow people of all ages to meet up, regardless of their marital status. Websites like these can shamelessly perpetuate adultery without even trying.

This, however, didn’t seem to be the case with Ashley Madison.

In response to the breach, Avid Life Media, owner of AshleyMadison.com, released a statement updating the public of the company’s control over the situation. Not once did the company’s comments express any genuine sign of remorse for the personal damage it had done to its customers’ relationships.

The company that parades the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair.” cleverly used the words, “we apologize,” in its statement, though it made no attempt to repay for the havoc it wreaked in relationships. Of course Ashley Madison doesn’t offer sympathy; the company never cared about the users’ marital status anyway.

Different types of people from all over the world were affected by Ashley Madison’s security failure. Well-known names, including Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, were exposed as users of the website. According to CNN, Biden was accused of having a personal email address linked to the site, although he denies any involvement with the account.

Josh Duggar from TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” is also currently under fire after his email address was found registered with the site. According to the Duggar family website, the previously labeled family man has recently checked into rehab for pornography addiction, while his wife seeks counseling to heal her heart. The statement was later changed.

Sadly, not all who were affected by the hack were able to seek help. BBC reported that, according to Toronto police, two individuals have taken their lives in the wake of the cyberattack. Such are the mournful consequences of poor personal decisions and irresponsible websites to support them.

In the end, Ashley Madison got exactly what it deserved. The company, which until recently may have been a well-kept secret, earned international spotlight for the damaging role it has played in relationships and families. The company — and hopefully the industry behind it — will never be the same.

And what kind of lesson does a company like Ashley Madison teach our generation? With a rumored divorce rate of 50 percent, marriage is already an area of concern to young adults. Now more than ever, college-aged adults are searching to find validity and faith in the idea of marriage. But the depressing message of what websites like Ashley Madison stand for — that many cannot be faithful in love — can easily squash those hopes.

The consequences of the Ashley Madison website are upsetting, and I offer no sympathy to the company that enabled the cheating.

The hackers, who appropriately call themselves “The Impact Team,” put it this way:

“Too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion. Too bad for ALM, you promised secrecy but didn’t deliver.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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