Ashley Madison Netflix doc
Main Image: Key art from Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal courtesy of Netflix.

When extramarital affair website Ashley Madison was hacked in 2015, it was one of the largest data breaches in the world, according to the trailer for the new three-part Netflix docuseries Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal.

“At that time cyber security was just starting to enter the public consciousness,” an interviewee says in the trailer for Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal, out May 15 on Netflix.

Who Hacked Ashley Madison? Netflix Doc Dives Into Data Breach

In 2015, Ashley Madison’s homepage said the site was “the most famous name in infidelity and married dating,” according to Wired. The site boasted: “Have an Affair today on Ashley Madison. Thousands of cheating wives and cheating husbands signup everyday looking for an affair…. With Our affair guarantee package we guarantee you will find the perfect affair partner.”

But that year, hackers calling themselves the “Impact Team” stole data from 37 million Ashley Madison users, threatening to release identifying information if the website didn’t shut down. Ultimately, the “Impact Team” released names, addresses, phone numbers, passwords, and partial credit card information of Ashley Madison users onto the dark web, according to Wired, exposing spouses who were cheating, or looking to cheat, on their marital partners.

“If that information got out, this would ruin a lot of people’s lives,” someone interviewed in the doc recalled of the data breach.

“Everyone was looking for dirt, looking for names that they recognized,” said another. “It was an absolute witch hunt.”

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Parent company Avid Life Media gave the following statement to Wired in 2015 regarding the data breach:

“This event is not an act of hacktivism, it is an act of criminality. It is an illegal action against the individual members of, as well as any freethinking people who choose to engage in fully lawful online activities… the criminal, or criminals, involved in this act have appointed themselves as the moral judge, juror, and executioner, seeing fit to impose a personal notion of virtue on all of society. We will not sit idly by and allow these thieves to force their personal ideology on citizens around the world.”

As a result of the data breach, in 2017, Avid Life Media, which changed its name to Ruby Corp., agreed to an $11.2 million settlement with multiple lawsuits from users whose data was stolen, according to Reuters.

Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal director Toby Paton wrote in his director’s statement that his reasoning for diving into the data breach story now isn’t so much to shame people who cheat on their spouses, but to understand why they did it.

When Minnow Films approached me to make a series about the rise of infidelity dating site Ashley Madison, and the catastrophic hack that led to its 37 million members having their identities exposed online, my first thought was ‘wow, what a story!’. It has everything – from the propulsive narrative and high stakes drama of a tech thriller to the tender, messy intimacy of the real marriages and relationships that are at the heart of the Ashley Madison story,” he said in a statement released by Netflix.

“We all know infidelity can be incredibly destructive and hurtful, but at the same time, the fact that Ashley Madison had 37 million members tells us something else we all know – that committing to one person for the rest of your life is really hard. Rather than berating people who joined Ashley Madison we were much more interested in exploring why they were drawn to the site – what were they looking for? What was going on in their relationships? And crucially – what was their partner’s side of the story?”

You can watch the full trailer for Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal above.

Main Image: Key art from Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal courtesy of Netflix.