Subscriptions to the site were arranged so that women could use the service for free while men paid a monthly fee – this, in theory, to encourage an even balance in its membership. Michael had joined Ashley Madison after seeing it written about in a newspaper. He recalled getting a deal as a new signee and being charged something like ?20 for his first month. He paid using his credit card. The profile name and email address he’d chosen were no threat, the photograph deniable – “but your credit card,” Michael realised, “is your credit card.” At this time there would have been a lot of men (even conservative estimates put the number of paid- up Ashley Madison subscribers at the time well into the millions) thinking: your credit card is your credit card.
Michael followed it all from his home computer as the story evolved, through July and into August, into an enormous, consistently strange, consistently ghastly global calamity.
In the subsequent panic, rewards for information about the hackers were offered
On 18 August, Ashley Madison’s entire customer database was indeed put online. Police in Toronto (the city where ALM was based) vowed to find the culprits. Meanwhile politicians, priests, military members, civil servants, celebrities – these and hundreds of other public figures were found among the listed membership. Millions more, formerly anonymous, suddenly had their private details sprayed out on to the internet. It varied according to an individual’s caution when signing up to the site, and to their luck, and to their gender (the men in general more exposed because of Ashley Madison’s requirement they pay by credit card), but after the leak some people found they could be identified not only by their names and their addresses but also by their height, their weight, even their erotic preferences.
In Alabama editors at a newspaper es of people from the region who appeared on Ashley Madison’s database. After some high-profile resignations all around North America, people wondered if there might not be a risk of more tragic repercussions. Brian Krebs, with some prescience, wrote a blog advising sensitivity: “There’s a very real chance that people are going to overreact,” he wrote. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw people taking their lives because of this.”
Moral crusaders, operating with impunity, began to shame and squeeze the exposed
A small number of suicides were reported, a priest in Louisiana among them. Speaking to the media after his death, the priest’s wife said he’d found out his name was among those on the list before he killed himself. She said she would have forgiven her husband, and that God would have too. “God’s grace in the midst of shame is the centre of the story for us, not the hack. My husband knew that grace, but somehow forgot that it was his when he took his own life.”
During the early weeks of the crisis ALM, the company behind Ashley Madison, stopped responding in any sort of adequate way to calls and emails from its terrified customers. Countless marriages were at risk, people teetered on appalling decisions, and meanwhile ALM put out brisk press releases, one announcing the departure of CEO Noel Biderman. It made superficial adjustments to the front of its website, at some point deciding to remove the graphic that described Ashley Madison as “100% discreet”.
‘I was basically a https://ilovedating.net/pl/zoosk-recenzja/ therapist for them’: Australian journalist Kristen Brown, who spoke to about 200 of those affected. Photograph: courtesy Kristen V Brown