Why Reporters Shouldn’t Publish Ashley Madison Leaked Names And Email Addresses

Shortly after the Ashley Madison leaked data was published to the dark web, reports of the published Ashley Madison data were confirmed as real by those who recognized their own last four digits of their credit card data and more identifying details, as reported by the Inquisitr. Almost as quickly, those who know how to access dark web browsers began mining the data for interesting facts. There will be no names or email addresses or identifying data from the Ashley Madison published data in this article.

The problem is that some more mainstream websites began publishing articles that listed the personal identifying details of purported Ashley Madison users, with email addresses from the U.K. to the U.S. While there’s nothing seemingly wrong with mining data for interesting and general facts — such as the finding that millions more men frequented the site than women, etc. — when it transitions to publishing names or email addresses on the web, that’s another story.

Most mainstream websites have abstained from publishing the Ashley Madison email address lists and have simply published screenshots of a few personal interests that likely won’t get anyone in trouble. Others, however, have taken it further and moved the dark web info into the public light — sort of helping the hackers by trying to shame Ashley Madison users.

Freedom of the press goes far, but there are times to ask if something is morally right to publish. That whole concept of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” comes into play. Especially, considering the fact that some victims of the Ashley Madison hacking who have their email addresses — and potentially real names — floating around on the web have mentioned suicidal thoughts. In that case, publishing links to the National Suicide Prevention hotline would be more helpful.

While some may argue that cheaters (or those who considered cheating) are getting what they deserve by having their data published online via the Ashley Madison hack — others strongly disagree. First off, no one is above reproach. Everyone has done something wrong at some point in their lives, and a compassionate mindset should win out over any finger wagging.

Plenty of the Ashley Madison hacking victims have had the fear of G*d placed in them over the thought of their loved ones finding out. Lots of those Ashley Madison users reported feeling bad about prior choices made and have written about turning over new leaves years ago. If the cheated-upon party is meant to find out, they will discover it — but it’s not the job of journalists to necessarily help the hackers along by publishing names. There are families and children to consider in many instances — something, yes, opponents claim the so-called cheaters should’ve thought about in the first place — however, compassion and empathy for everyone involved should be the order of the day. Also, the heat of passion violence that can accompany adultery issues are nothing to toy with — nor are the sexual diseases that could arise surrounding “unsafe” cheating dalliances.

As reported by the Washington Post, those not exposed in the Ashley Madison hack shouldn’t gloat — and realize the deeper meaning.

“Before you celebrate your comeuppance over less ethical friends and colleagues, consider this: The Ashley Madison leak is about a lot more than the public shaming of philanderers. Above all, it’s about Internet privacy.”

[Image via Ashley Madison]