Got a Secret, Can You Keep It?

ashley-madison

“Life is Short. Have an Affair.” These words are just as hard to type for me as they are to say. It baffles me that such websites are created that will only ensure couples to tear apart. Multiple questions have risen in my head: “Are technological advancements deteriorating the public?” “Have morals over the centuries changed?” “Is technology to blame for websites such as these?” “Has media influenced the public for this to be socially acceptable?” “What ethnicities are most likely to use this site?” One thing is for certain, Ashley Madison’s name will go down in history.

I had not heard of this scandal until a conversation with Professor Heather Asbeck. While revising my first draft for the fourth essay, she mentioned the Ashley Madison scandal and how Josh Duggar was involved. I remember Duggar being on the news and hearing how he has betrayed the Duggar name, but I wasn’t certain of why or how. I began to do some research on the website and found shocking results.

Ashley Madison is a website created specifically for people that want to continue dating while also having a spouse or significant other. All of this information was held in secret, however, through Ashley Madison’s database. Unfortunately for the cheaters, a hackivist called “The Impact Team” hacked into Ashley Madison to release personal information about the users. The Impact Team claimed to have wanted to help release the cheaters, but it seems they may have had some business motivation. The group allegedly dumped the user information onto the “dark space” on the Internet (E! Online). CEO, Noel Biderman resigned shortly after hackers released the identities of over 37  million users. This could be due to failure to protect user identities or because The Impact Team released a statement that accused Ashley Madison of not removing users’ credit card information from their database as they promised to.

For multiple years, Ashley Madison was flourishing mostly in The United States and England. It then began to grow to most of North America and Europe. By 2012, Ashley Madison had reached Australia and South America. Finally, by 2014, this company had reached nearly every country. North America was, however, by far the most potent in using the online dating site. The continent with the least interactions was Africa. Looking at these two continents allowed me to easily distinguish an evident difference – North America is technologically advanced. Although there are other aspects to that debate, the most prominent would be the advancements North America possess. Africa is known as a poverty-stricken continent; however, there are wealthy and flourishing areas. An ethical question that I thought of would be the value of relationships to each culture. Does North America stray away from the devoted relationship that was established as a norm? Have these norms radicalized and how? Through technological advancements?

To break down the website even more, nearly 86% of users were males while only 14% were female (binaryedge). What does this say about gender roles? Are females more likely to be loyal than males?

Age distributions also got released. The ages that were most prominent on Ashley Madison ranged from 18-33 year olds (binaryedge). To me, this is the most immature time for couples, which is a little easing to my mind; however, it still does not make it right. Maybe the fact that people have yet to start a family so they do not worry about staying loyal. Or maybe there is too much pressure around these ages to find “the one” that it scares people into cheating. I have realized there is a new age that most couples are to get engaged. In the 1950’s, the average age of the first marriage ranged from 20-22 years old. In 2010, that number jumped to range from 26-28 years old (InfoPlease). The gap in first marriages can be applied to the site because the users may be less likely to marry their significant other at that age they are using the site.

The most fascinating, but also guessed by me, fact I learned about the Ashley Madison case is that the users were predominately white. Over 14 million users were white while another 11 million did not specify. All other ethnicities did not even come close to the amount of white users. The next ethnicity to come was Latino at less than 2 million (binaryedge). What does this same about Caucasian people?

From my discoveries, I found that most users on the Ashley Madison site were white males from North America that ranged from 18-33 years old. This speculates as what I would refer to as the stereotypical cheater. Although additional research and field studies would need to be conducted in order to understand how morals change from age, gender, and culture, it is safe to say that Ashley Madison’s death was a blessing.

Citations:

Finn, Natalie. “This Ashley Madison Madness.” E! Online. E! Entertainment Televison, 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.

“Ashley Madison – A Final Analysis of the Data.” BinaryEdge Science and Technology. Disqus, 31 Aug. 2015. Web. 02 Dec. 2015.

US Census. “Median Age at First Marriage.” Infoplease. Sandbox Networks Inc., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2015.

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