Yesterday the hackers who broke into the cheating website Ashley Madison followed through on their promise to expose philanderers and dumped data –including email addresses that had been used on the site – online.
So there now exists easily searchable lists of email addresses that were used by people who were hoping to have affairs using the site that called itself “the world's leading married dating service for discreet encounters”.
So far in Britain, there have been few high-profile victims of the hack but an email account associated with Michelle Thomson, a married SNP MP, was found in the security breach. She has said that she was the victim of a smear campaign.
In the US, Joshua Duggar, a conservative reality star and former executive director of the Family Research Council, an organisation that seeks “to champion marriage and family as the foundation of civilisation”, has been linked to the site.
Most people who used the site won’t have been in the public eye of course and with the lists comes the situation where anyone can search for email addresses belonging to their loved ones.
Yesterday, a BuzzFeed reporter described the “peculiar, oddly prosaic” conversation she had with her ex-boyfriend after discovering his email address had been used on Ashley Madison. She writes: “There is a not-insignificant likelihood that somewhere in the world right now, someone else is experiencing the same stomach-drop sickness I still remember, is sitting on a bathroom floor or a bed wondering What the hell happened and What the hell now.”
Meanwhile Australian DJs have been criticised for revealing to a woman live on air that her husband’s email address was included in the leak.
The list is there, but that doesn’t mean you have to search it.