The three-part Hulu docuseries The Ashley Madison Affair explores the scandalous infidelity platform, including the effect it had on the public in the mid-2000s, as well as the company's notorious 2015 data breach which led to lawsuits, headlines, and unsuspecting couples finding out their partners had been cheating.
Ashley Madison began in 2001 as a website to help people have affairs. As cited in the Hulu documentary, the website was named after the two most popular baby girl names that year. In 2015, The Impact Team hacked the Ashley Madison servers and released the list of names of every person who had signed up for the website.
If one was to do a simple search using a name or email, a partner could quickly find out if their spouse had been engaging in an affair.
Following the notorious cyberattack, is Ashley Madison still active today?
Is Ashley Madison still active today?
Prior to the cyberattack, then-CEO of Ashley Madison, Noel Biderman, used questionable marketing strategies to build an international brand of subscribers. Biderman and his wife Amanda would participate in interviews about how the infidelity website is helping marriages. Ashley Madison would also run provocative ads to garner media attention and headlines.
Though the company was doing well, Ashley Madison seemingly went through a big setback when The Impact Team, a group of hackers, released the personal information of everyone who had ever signed up for the website.
As seen in The Ashley Madison Affair, the breach ruined plenty of lives.
Following the release of personal information, a class action lawsuit was filed against Ashley Madison by some of the victims of the hack. Though the case was won, the money had to be split between the 18 named plaintiffs, representing a class of 2,500 named victims, and their lawyers.
But, the lawsuit didn't kill Ashley Madison.
"The fact that it had come back from that hack, and was successful to me was shocking and surprising," Beth Hoppe, Executive Producer from ABC News Studios, said.
"There's no such thing as bad publicity," Jeremey Dear, EP from Wall to Wall Media," added. "Ashley Madison is living proof [of] that. ... [It] was true when the hack happened and Ashley Madison's name became burnt into the retinas of hundreds of millions of people, rather than just it's kind of niche subscribers."
Needless to say, while many would think that scandal would tarnish the trust between Ashley Madison and its subscribers, it didn't. The documentary reveals that users continued to use the site. Additionally, new security protocols were put in place, including a mass deletion of all fake female profiles, known as "fem-bots" — which according to the docuseries were used on the website to lure men into paying more money for site credits.
Despite the backlash that Ashley Madison received, the site is still thriving.
Per a 2019 article published by Insider, Ashley Madison had a total of 60 million subs at the time. It’s hard to tell how many users are on the site today, but one thing is for sure — plenty of married people are still having affairs with or without the site.
You can now stream The Ashley Madison Affair on Hulu.