(Slate) -- Here’s a safe bet: If your husband’s name turned up in the Ashley Madison data released by the hacker group Impact Team, he probably isn’t cheating on you.
While Ashley Madison claims to have almost 40 million members, very few of them seem to have gotten much out of the site. Studying internal emails from the company’s management, Gizmodo’s Annalee Newitz claims to have “found ample evidence that the company was actively paying people to create fake profiles.” And many of the profiles created by real women, Newitz argues, were inactive. If this is true, the site’s male users—who Newitz reports had to pay to send “custom messages” to women—were essentially talking to themselves. Above all else, they’re a pitiable bunch, but that fact is unlikely to spare them from the ongoing parade of public shaming—as well as the threats of extortion and identity theft—indiscriminately directed at those implicated in the leak.
The lucky users were those who got out before getting trapped, though even they are feeling the heat. In this week’s “Dear Prudence” advice column, a married reader wrote in claiming to have created his account when he was “single, bored, and curious,” adding, “I surfed the site for an hour or two, and didn’t contact anyone.” Because the site never purged the data of former users, even those who paid to be removed, his information was still there.
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