OMG WHAT?? YOU WENT ON DAT SITE?!? Yes people, if you search through the list of leaked names, you’ll find mine on it. I won’t link to it here out of respect for other’s privacy (because the hack includes physical and IP addresses as well as e-mail accounts and I’m pretty sure it’s a crime to share it), but yes, if you scroll far enough, you’ll find my info. I know, you have questions. Really good questions, that I’m sure have nothing to do with simple curiosity and aren’t judgmental in any way, right? So I’ll attempt to answer them below…
- Q: What is Ashley Madison? I’ve never heard of it. A: Ashley Madison is a dating website marketed to people who “seek to have an affair.” Don’t worry, I’ll address that phrase later. It’s basically a poorly built OKCupid or Match.com that tried to woo married people or people in a relationship that want to have some sort of sexual liaisons with other people in relationships to give AM money in exchange for exactly that. (I’ll address that, too).
- Q: Wait, I know you! You’re not married or in a relationship! A: Correct! I am neither married nor am I currently in a relationship!
- Q: Were you in a relationship when you signed up?? A: No, I was not in a relationship when I signed up!
- Q: That’s kind of sleazy… A: Totally. It is definitely sleazy, which is why I had to see it. Sleazy things are interesting and hilarious (as long as they’re not illegal).
- Q: Well then, what the hell dude? Were you trying to pick up married women?? A: No! I’ve been single for a very long time (b/c it’s great) and really don’t need a dating website to get laid (sorry, Mom). And even if I were and did try, it’s totally not possible on Ashley Madison, anyway (I’ll explain that, also). I logged into the site last year, along with eHarmony, Match.com, and OKcupid. Basically, all the major ones that I could think of that aren’t FarmersOnly.com (hilarious), ChristianMingle.com, or some small offshoot.
- Q: So why go to it then? A: In a nutshell, Craigslist! Bear with me here. One of my favorite things to do is read the Missed Connections section on Craigslist. Why? Because it is genuinely the funniest thing on the entire internet. A friend of mine told me about it (the same friend that told me about AM, actually) and I’ve gone to it at least once a week to get some big LOL’s. If you’ve never experienced it for yourself, peep it here: http://lafayette.craigslist.org/i/personals?category=mis. In case you’re wondering, AM is nowhere near as good. It’s the opposite, actually. Nobody writes anything (I’ll explain why in a bit).
- Q: So did you communicate with anyone on it? A: Nope! It costs money to communicate with people on it. The way it works (from what I can remember), is that you have to buy credits to view and send messages to people, which is different from something like Match or eHarmony, which are both monthly subscriptions which included unlimited communication (and are both very expensive, and in the case of eHarmony, require a 3 month commitment, which was a PAIN IN THE ASS to cancel). So, you have to buy a starting amount of credits for a set price to send or view any messages. Only after making the minimally required profile did I get to search it. You have to have a screen name, city, and a few “interests,” which are hilariously all sex stuff, even though they use the scientific terms for things to keep it classy!
- Q: What was on your account? A: Only what was required to get in. No real name or address. Also no pictures, bio, or anything like that.
- Q: But on the leak docs, I can see that you paid money. A: Yes. It was about fifty dollars to buy credits. I’ve heard from a few people that were on the list that the money amounts in the leak were incorrect by up to $400, with some never even paying anything but showing on the leak docs as having paid. The leak said I paid $98 dollars, which is incorrect. I only spent $50 (I looked at my CC statement on 8/27 to confirm.) $50 is expensive (and the minimum you can buy), but not as expensive as an eHarmony subscription, which was the most costly, and again, a pain in the ass to cancel, so I kept getting charged). Right after joining, I received about two or three messages from different accounts. I thought that I needed money to open them, but actually you only need money to reply, so basically I wasted $50 because I didn’t read the instructions, which I do often because I am a man and we don’t like to read instructions. And the money to me is really not a big deal anyway, considering that I just spent $300 on an original Nintendo that can plug into an HDMI and go 1080p HD. As far as dumb purchases go, it’s not even in the top 10. (UPDATE 8/27: I was talking to a guy who was on the site yesterday and he says that you DO need credits to open and read messages. He said that it’s 5 credits to open and 5 credits to send. He also said that in order to get full access to the site, you have to pay. If not, you can only see very limited info and can’t search. I’m glad that he cleared that up because I couldn’t really remember. Also, I looked at my credit card statement and discovered that I in fact had only spent $50.)
- Q: So who were the messages from? A: Remember when I said that I’d explain why using AM successfully is nearly impossible? Here’s why. The messages I received were from BOTS. A Bot is a fake profile that’s artificially created to catfish people. Have you ever received a friend request on Facebook that you were pretty sure wasn’t a real person? That’s a Bot. That also answers the question of how I got messages without even having a picture or a name on the profile, in case you were wondering. It also means that the site is literally FULL of fake profiles. After scrolling through it for a few minutes, each page had about 1 or 2 real women (I think) and the rest were all either fakes or ones like mine, people who wanted to look and never filled anything out. (UPDATE 8/26: My theory has been proven to be correct. You can read about it HERE.)
- Q: You said that there were real women on it. Who were they? A: I’m not sure who they were (although you can find the list on your own and have a gander, but you might not like what you find), but I am 99% sure that the majority of real female profiles on AM were escorts (I didn’t search for dudes. I mean come on, really?). If you went to the main profile page and looked at the very top, they had premium accounts of ridiculously (suspiciously?) hot women from other countries featured that would actually FLY TO YOUR CITY! So yeah, definitely escorts. I looked through the leaked list, and I was only able to find approximately less than 5 or 10 women in the immediate area (Lafayette Parish). To me, when you combine the bots and obvious escorts, it seems really, really hard to actually be able to use AM for its intended purpose of having “extramaritals.” So ladies, if you find your significant other’s name on there, my opinion is that you can be 100% sure that if he did manage to cheat on you with another woman, it was NOT because of AM (if it was, it’s probably because he’s gay, which is 1000x more possible as the post-leak stats say that the site is about 95% dudes). So, if you are a dude “seeking to have an affair,” you’ll have to go to a bar or something, cause it ain’t happenin’ on AM (again, unless you’re gay, which is cool, but you should just tell somebody. Especially your spouse, because not only is it not fair to you, it’s also not fair to them. It’s 2015, so it’s OK and way more dangerous in the long run to hide it).
- Q: That’s it? A: Yep, that’s it. Not only was it a waste of money, but also a waste of time. I mean, I could’ve read ALL of Baton Rouge’s CL Missed Connections in that period of time and bought a new Apple product (OK… heavily used Apple product, like MAYBE an iPod Nano). To be fair, all the dating sites seem to be a waste of time, but I thought this one to be the worst, with eHarmony being a close second. For real, that old dude in their commercials is a damn snake oil salesman.
- Q: So why didn’t you cancel it? A: Good question! If you read the hacker’s reasoning behind publishing the list, they stated that they (allegedly) did it because AM were charging people to delete their accounts. That is true. They wanted either $20 or $25 to delete my profile. At that point, I was already in the hole fifty bucks, so I just said screw it and left it there. Since I hadn’t put any pictures or real info up and wasn’t being charged a monthly fee, I just left it and forgot about it. And let’s be real, if I had paid for deletion, I’m not sure it would’ve kept me off the list anyway. I feel better saving the cash and writing this hilarious and self depreciating blog post.
- Q: Are you concerned that your personal info is out there? A: Not really. Everything that was leaked is pretty much public knowledge anyway, except for my IP address and credit card number (which expired before the hack and as of now is only available to see on the dark web via a .tor, so I’m not worried about that either).
- Q: Are you embarrassed that everyone knows you went there? A: Nope! As a matter of fact, I’m glad I checked it out because I learned a lot! I learned to read instructions before spending $50. I learned that there’s no way their reported numbers are correct. I learned that in a town of about 250,000 people, potentially only a few people around here actually signed up, and even fewer managed to use the thing (That’s just a guess, though. I’m really good at internet-ing and it was even confusing to me). So, in general, the whole “sanctity of marriage” thing is working out, er, at least when it comes to the internet. And to be quite honest, I know that over half of you are reading this with a browser history full of porn.
- Q: So who should be embarrassed then, smarty pants? A: The only ones who should be embarrassed are:
- Actual married people who’s spouse/significant other didn’t know they joined. Even if you joined for a goof or out of curiosity, you’ve gotta communicate that. I’ve been single most of my life and even I know that. Suggested embarrassment level: 75%
- People who used business e-mails to sign up. Come on man, that can totally get you fired. Suggested embarrassment level: 50% (75% if you work eHarmony or Match)
- People who used .gov e-mails to sign up. Haven’t you guys seen enough stories on Gawker about government employees using their e-mails for personal stuff (looking at you, Hillary Clinton). Suggested embarrassment level: 85%
- People who hold public office, ESPECIALLY “family values” Republicans. They found out about David Vitter (currently running for Governor) soliciting prostitutes, did you really think that this wouldn’t get out eventually? They are looking for you to mess up! If you hold public office and talk openly against this kind of stuff and they catch you, you deserve to be called a hypocrite. Suggested Embarrassment level: 95%, unless you are David Vitter, because after getting caught soliciting actual prostitutes, nothing can embarrass you besides your policies.
- Religious Authority figures. This one should be self explanatory. To be honest, I’m somewhat amazed/baffled/bumfoogled that Josh Duggar was able to use this website successfully and I wasn’t. Suggested embarrassment level: 234%
- Lastly, THE HACKERS AND EVERYONE WHO THINKS THEY’RE THE GOOD GUYS AND SHARES THE LIST. I know that everybody likes to laugh (because it is kind of hilarious, in a way) and wants to know everybody else’s business, (cajun culture, amirite?) but hacking into a website and mass doxing millions of people’s personal info and credit card numbers is a major crime and an even more major invasion of privacy. Even though it seems silly, people do have a right to privacy, even if what they’re doing doesn’t meet your particular moral standards. What about people who openly use it and their spouse is OK with it? Even though those are few and far between, those people do exist (and from what I can tell are very secretive about it, for obvious reasons). The hackers are criminals who just happened to decide on AM as their target. How much do you think people would be freaking out if they decided to target Facebook DM’s (which probably facilitate more infidelity than anything on the internet) or your bank accounts instead of AM? The only reason that they didn’t is that their “ideology” just happened to be this instead. I can almost guarantee you that they’ll do it again (because it’s fun to get attention) and you might not like it next time (because everybody has some weird shit that they secretly enjoy, mine is Craigslist missed connections and U2). If you see anyone sharing the list, report it and encourage that they take it down. Let’s not help anyone who’s going to try to use it for nefarious purposes (identity fraud and extortion, specifically). I know that some people will say that I think that only because I don’t want people to see me on the list, but I just wrote 2000 words on it and shared it to Facebook to everyone I know, so that logic can do what AM can’t and go F itself. Suggested embarrassment level: way more than anyone on the actual list, because unlike them, you are an actual criminal.
So there you go. Did I answer all your questions? I find that most people who are fascinated with seeing the list haven’t even investigated it at all and just saw somebody on FoxNews talking about it and just assumed that anyone who is on that site is just havin’ a big ol’ country fried orgy. Not the case at all. As a matter of fact, it’s the total opposite. My experience level with it is as follows: Ashley Madison is boring and you should just go to Craigslist for your entertainment. Or Facebook. Or a bar. Or Tinder. Or a concert. Or literally anything else.
UPDATE 8/24: I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday (8/23) who signed up a few months ago with her husband to see what all the fuss was about after they heard about it from someone. They used his name and info to sign up, took a look, was unimpressed (like me) and never thought about it again. After the list got leaked, he got a phone call from an anonymous person demanding cash in exchange for not telling his wife that his name was on the list. Fortunately for him, she already knew, but this is exactly the kind of stuff that will happen as a result of this. And apparently, it’s happening all over. She also said that the leaked docs show them as spending $300 and she knows for a fact that that didn’t happen because she manages their bookkeeping. She’s the second person that I talked to who’ve said that.