Ashley Madison, the website that has helped countless men and almost no women cheat on their spouses, announced over the weekend that it had settled the lawsuit brought on by millions of users who had their personal information leaked in 2015. The dating website dedicated to infidelity will pay a total of $11.2 million to users who were affected by the data breach, with individual users receiving up to $3,500 for damages, depending on “how well they can document their losses attributable to the breach.” While this may seem like a massive blow to Ashley Madison, it may not have much an effect in the long run.
First, while $11.2 million might sound like a lot of money, it’s a relatively minor setback for a company that makes more than $100 million annually. Even with Ashley Madison finally attempting to cut down on bots — which, surprise, was a huge percentage of its female users — the website has still made more than enough money to stay afloat without having to worry about the consequences of their actions. In fact, the data breach that launched 1,000 divorces seems to have done a service to the company. More than 16 million new user accounts have been created since the hack, at least according to Ashley Madison, which recently celebrated the creation of 52 million accounts. With the growth of the site being unaffected by the hack, it would make sense that the company’s profits have suffered either.
So anyone hoping that the data breach would result in the permanent crippling of Ashley Madison may be surprised to find the site’s most destructive days may be ahead of it. But, really, how much can your reputation suffer if you built your brand with slogans like “Life is short. Have an affair”? As to the question of how many of those users are actually cheating on their significant others and how many are just browsing, well, that’s for the next data breach to reveal.