In an era of big data breaches, the 2015 hack that nearly took down Ashley Madison stood out. The hackers who stole the controversial dating site’s user data weren’t after money. Rather, they wanted to compromise its users in hopes of shutting down the site.
What is Ashley Madison?
So what is Ashley Madison and why is it so controversial? Well, is not your mother’s dating site; it may be your partner’s, though, and that’s the problem.
Ashley Madison’s tagline is brief and to the point: “Life is short. Have an affair.” Its homepage features a mysterious woman wearing a wedding ring and gesturing for silence with a finger to her lips. The site emphasizes user privacy and discretion — blurred user photos, no links to public social media profiles, etc.
To put it more bluntly: Ashley Madison is a dating service aimed at people looking for extramarital relationships.
How Many People Are On the Site?
Ashley Madison proudly states that they’ve had over 50 million users since their founding in 2001. Although there was some debate about the veracity of these numbers, the dating site reported last year that they’re continuing to thrive even in the wake of the much-reported data hack, to the tune of some 400,000 new users every month.
While there’s no way to verify these stats, it’s safe to say that married people are still looking for affairs. And Ashley Madison is more than happy to oblige them.
Why is Ashley Madison So Popular?
Although they say they’re “more than an affair site,” Ashley Madison markets itself specifically to people in existing relationships.
Estimates vary, but studies seem to indicate that at least 25% of married men will have an extramarital affair at least once in their lifetime. While some men cheat with people they know (female friends, co-workers), others look online for willing partners. It’s not uncommon to meet someone using Tinder or OKCupid only to later find out they’re married.
But using a more traditional dating app to have an affair is risky, as the cheater’s partner can easily search their email address using a people search engine. This can pull up incriminating dating profiles or “secret” social media accounts that the cheater is using to connect with people.
Ashley Madison, on the other hand, markets itself as a “discreet” solution for people looking to conduct their (literal) affairs in absolute secrecy with other like-minded individuals.
Is Your Partner on Ashley Madison?
Following the 2015 hack of the site, millions of Ashley Madison users were exposed to the public, including several high-profile celebrity names. The only way to find them on Ashley Madison would be to create an account of your own. Who knows what you may find?
If you don’t want to go that route, here are a few things you can do to investigate your mate:
- If you’ve noticed strange numbers on a shared phone plan, or wonder who has been texting them, search unknown phone numbers here to see name, location and more
- Also, search their email address to see any social media profiles (including accounts on dating sites) associated with that email address.
Life is short. Get peace of mind.