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We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating. There’s the option to send digital gifts: a teddy bear, a rose or a sapphire necklace (at £16! I swap the last of my credits for 30 minutes of live chat.Any and all parties responsible for this act of cyber–terrorism will be held responsible.” For now, the site is still charging, apparently banking on the impulsivity that drives online gambling. A message pops up “hi can give you a strip show right now… ” I am directed to a live webcam site but with one eye on my expenses claim, I decide to call it a day and let the flood of red-lip emojis cascade over me. Have An Affair.” That is what I have spent the last three days trying to do.Millions of adulterous users of the website Ashley Madison – which bills itself as a dating site for married people – have spent this week worrying about having their membership and their cheating secrets revealed after a group calling itself Impact Team hacked into their profiles.A few are from the same persistent man, who tells me he “just wants to talk to me” because “it’s refreshing to see a genuine person on here and not some troller”.He sounds lonely – his family is away in the countryside and he works in London Monday to Friday, longing for someone to “share a glass with”.
It’s no wonder I’m being hounded as one of just 30 women under 30 years old with an active account – the ones messaging me know it too, trying to attract my attention with openers such as “pick me! Of course there are explicit messages but most are polite, friendly – verging on begging letters.
Some commentators have rejoiced in what they see as a deserved comeuppance for those who have been indulging in digital infidelity, while others argue the users are victims of a grave breach of privacy.
While it has been assumed that the scandal would sound the site’s death knell, it has also generated a vast amount of free publicity – and led even those of us who would never dream of cheating, less still giving away our personal details to a website to do so, wondering what it would be like to enter an online den of marital cheaters.
But they are outnumbered by a second group of twentysomethings who are just as straightforward.
“A sugar daddy,” comes one succinct response to my introductory question. The site invites me to spend it at every turn, and users were even charged £15 to delete their profile prior to the hack.
One is old enough to be my mother and has a username that, without giving too much away, is an instruction to engage part of my mouth with a baked good she has in her possession.