A comment from 3 years ago on reddit about Ashley Madison:
Not really question, but I want to make sure that everyone else knows what Mr Biderman knows.
There are few or no women on Ashley Madison. Ads and messages “from” women are in fact from employees of Ashley Madison.
The business model is fairly simple. The would-be adulterer buys the privilege of sending X messages, say 50 for $100. He uses them to respond to ads supposedly from women (unbeknownst to him, of course, they are just plants).
When he starts to run low, one of his messages will be answered. A woman who is, miraculously, exactly what he was looking for and lives nearby, will start up a conversation with him. Things will be looking really good just when he runs out of messages. He’ll have to buy a whole new package of 50 or 100 but someone that women will never as responsive — until he starts running low again.
Personally, I think it’s a pretty sleazy business, but what the hell.
(No, I’m not a victim. I used to run an honest dating site.)
If you want to understand the motivations of the AM hackers, you need to understand how very intensely anons hate this kind of thing. It’s not wannabe-adulterers they have a hate-boner for – they’re quite sanguine about treating AM’s userbase as collateral damage, but if they rationalise this as “punishment” it’s for stupidity not immorality. But that’s by the by. What they hate, with the fire of a thousand suns, is systematic deception and unfairness – because what they adhere to, as a value above all values, is the idea of a level playing field with transparent rules. They know very well that the world isn’t like that, but they believe that it should be and can be made to be by exposing and punishing offenders against fairness – the corrupt, the duplicitous, the biased and self-serving. This is the underlying principle behind both the old anon campaigns against the Church of Scientology, and all the bits of #gamergate that are in any sense actually about ethics in games journalism. If AM had actually done what it purported to do, fairly and consistently and without false advertising or making a sucker out of the punters, then I can guarantee that absolutely no fucks would have been given by anyone in that community.
As usual, it all gets a bit skewed in the presence (or, rather, absence) of sex, because anons tend to see male sexual desire as an uncontrollable need exploited by a) individual unscrupulous women (hence the monstering of Zoe Quinn), b) society at large, via advertising and the apparatus of celebrity (hence the rationalisability of the Fappening as a kind of pirate raid on the hoarded sex-value of female celebs, a return to the commons of a resource made artificially scarce), and c) scammers like AM who promise to service that need but never delivar (cf the tremendous anger of disappointed PUAs, who’ve been promised a reversal of fortunes that never materialises in practice). To be male, and to have unmet and probably unmeetable sexual needs, is in their eyes to be permanently and damagingly vulnerable – it’s an unbearable and deeply-resented state of dependency on others. The AM hack is unusual in that in this case that resentment has been focussed on something other than women – but it’s nevertheless based on the same truly horrible and destructive understanding of what it is to be a sexual being.
p.s.: my initial take on the AM hack –
Laura Kipnis says something somewhere in Against Love to the effect that adultery is almost like an American religion – it fulfils a need for having secrets, for private meaning, for a kind of self-ownership based on reclaiming the prerogative of defaulting on one’s public oaths and pledges of allegiance: “my tongue swore to, but my heart (or mind, or other backstage artiste) did not”. Don Draper is explicitly positioned as a figure of envy, even if he simultaneously seems – as he is – sad, empty, driven by futile compulsions. His capacity for duplicity is the most authentic thing about him. The point here isn’t that monogamy is “too hard”, that it’s unnatural and too much for ordinary, unsaintly people to bear; it’s that the couple form is invested with such tremendous significance that it generates a perverse incentive to break out, a counter-investment of equal and opposite potency. AM’s sales pitch – have an affair, take possession of a part of your life that you had surrendered control over, evade detection, act as if invisible and untouchable by consequence – proposes adultery as a ring-of-Gyges scenario, almost like the exercise of a superpower: be Walter White in your own life! And now it’s Naked Lunch time – “a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork”…