Scouse Bird Problems – Can a computer hacker save your relationship? Maybe.

If you’ve read the papers this week (or even glanced at them on the newsagent’s stands) you’ll probably have seen a headline regarding the Ashley Madison cheating scandal and wondered what the hell it’s all about. Ashley Madison is a website, a dating website really, but with an unusual twist. Unfortunately for those who use it, there’s been a hack, which means that someone has hold of confidential details and sensitive data about all of the members currently signed up.

This shouldn’t be a problem right? There is no shame to internet dating. But like I said Ashley Madison has a twist. Actually its tagline says it all; it reads ‘Life is short. Have an affair.’ That’s right, Ashley Madison is a dating website for people that are in a relationship. It’s a website for people looking for likeminded others to cheat on their partners with and now it’s been hacked, with the hackers threatening to expose every member to the public, ratting out the love rats for all to see. I can’t help but feel a little pro-hacker here.

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I looked into Ashley Madison a few months back when I was prepping for an article about online dating. Before doing this research I had no idea that this kind of business was legitimate. It seemed ridiculous that there were enough people in the world that were so unhappy they would use a website to help them commit adultery rather than having some guts and ending the relationship – allowing both parties a chance at finding happiness.

Ashley Madison caters for everything; if you’re single looking for a fling with someone in a relationship, you can find it at Ashley Madison. If you’re attached and looking for a same sex experience, you will find one on Ashley Madison. Basically anything goes, literally going from basic hand holding to full on ‘fifty shades of grey’ red room scenes, Ashley Madison has it all. I was so intrigued that I signed up, with the full support of my long-suffering husband that is. (I’m always doing something ridiculous in the name of research.)

Creating a profile is a fun event. I’ve seen other dating websites that ask you about your likes and dislikes, but this one takes a strong stomach. The ‘intimate desires’ section alone is an education, I mean personally I would steer clear of a person that openly said they liked to be aggressive during sex, but on Ashley Madison, it’s a big appeal. You can ask for a Father or Mother figure, specify whether you’re looking for a ‘bad’ person and you can even hint towards wanting a drug taker. It’s like the website set up for ex convict’s that have failed to go straight.

The general interests allow you to specify whether you like skinny dipping (a very popular hobby apparently.) You can find an already attached potential match that wants to visit swinging clubs; which kind of hints that one affair wouldn’t be enough for them, they’d actually want several. Adult games aren’t a problem, and if you really need to, you can find a match that likes erotic literature, so certainly go and stock up on those copies of Playboy magazine.

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My profile was a basic fake name, area and age. I described myself as ‘carrying extra weight’ (I couldn’t lie, I have body shaped Tourette’s) and of course, married. I didn’t specify what I was looking for, nor what my interests were and I wasn’t expecting any responses. I didn’t even put up a fake photo. But low and behold, within three days I had an inbox full of winks and messages from men gagging to have an affair with a middle aged, overweight married woman. One that couldn’t be arsed to fill in a full profile either. I opened two messages. On the second message I got a very clear photograph of some bloke’s pubic hair and dodgy tattoo, that went down to god only knows where. I couldn’t open the rest, I just couldn’t visually prepare myself for that particular body feature on anyone other man than the one I married.

It actually put me off researching any further, so that particular article got shelved until now. But after the hackers attacked at the weekend I thought I would share what I knew. The CEO’s of Ashley Madison are a married couple based in Canada. They were interviewed about the hacking and pledged allegiance to all the 37 million users of Ashley Madison. That’s 37 million users globally that have signed up to a website promoting cheating and extra marital sex. I don’t support hackers stealing personal details. But come on, if there was ever a website worthy of it, Ashley Madison would be it. The hackers were actually doing Ashley Madison members a favour in the first instance. The initial reason for the hack was that Ashley Madison were falsifying a service that they charged for. Basically they were promising that if you requested your account to be deleted and paid the premium of 20 dollars (in the UK roughly 13 pounds,) they promised to wipe your history clean. They were found out to be lying and retaining customer’s personal details plus credit card data, allegedly to sell to a third party. The hacking group were battling data protection, but in doing so, have brought to light the amount of people that are actively seeking infidelity. Thus creating some serious waves with lots of families all over the world.

People are now calling for Ashley Madison, another site called Established Men (rich men looking for not so typical sexual partners,) and Cougar Life, a site for older females looking for young lads, to be taken down. These multi million pound businesses that help the average scoundrel find a playmate are now being named and shamed in world media. So inadvertently a small hacking group could be saving many hearts from being broken into pieces. We should be a little grateful, cheating won’t stop all together of course (there’ll always be someone somewhere who is looking for the next best thing), but at least it’s not as easy.

Personally I am glad the media have run with this story and highlighted it as a potentially dangerous service. I am trying very hard to bring up three sons and on a basic level could do without them having access to services such as this. There are human rights advocates and relationship ‘experts’ that will tell you that having a choice is personal decision. But if you walk down the aisle or pledge faithfulness to someone else, you should stick to the promise you’ve made. If you can’t do that, then do the right thing and be straight with them. That way they can avoid being humiliated at best, or exposed to a sexual health risk at worst.

The CEO of Avid Life Media, the company that own Ashley Madison was quoted as saying he would ‘cheat on his wife in a minute.’ Well, as she’s his business partner, she probably doesn’t care but people like you and I really do. In the end the ‘choice’ isn’t about whether we can maintain a relationship or not, it’s whether we can respect each other enough to behave in the honest way that most of us deserve. Oh and the website is still up, take a look and see what you think yourself. 

XOXO

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