Ashley Madison is known for its “Life is short. Have an affair,” tagline but things got messy in 2015 when a team of hackers exposed those with accounts on the website seeking extramarital affairs.

From disgraced 19 Kids & Counting alum Josh Duggar to Jersey Shore’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s husband, Jionni LaValle, many high-profile names were found in the middle of the scandal.

What Is Ashley Madison?

Ashley Madison is a Canada-based online dating website that launched in the early 2000s. It primarily targeted married adults searching for people to cheat on their spouses with.

Who Hacked Ashley Madison?

After reportedly gaining more than 50 million subscribers at its peak, Ashley Madison was hacked on July 15, 2015, exposing its member’s secret affairs, including a lengthy list of celebrities and public figures.

A group of hackers called The Impact Team gained access to the website’s database and threatened to expose its users’ personal information, including names, addresses, search history and credit card info if the company did not cease operations.

When the founders of Ashley Madison failed to bend to the hackers’ requests, The Impact Team released the names of 32 million users on August 18, 2015.

The hack is the center of a new Netflix documentary, Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal, released on the streaming platform in May 2024.

Who Was a Part of the Ashley Madison Leak?

Josh Duggar – who was married to wife Anna Duggar at the time – was the first public figure to be outed by the hackers. Following news of his involvement, the former reality star released a statement calling himself the “biggest hypocrite ever.

“I brought hurt and reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show with my actions that happened when I was 14-15 years old, and now I have re-broken their trust,” he added, via a since-deleted post on the family’s blog. 

Real Housewives of New York alum Josh Taekman as well as several high-profile politicians were later revealed as users of the website. Shortly after the leak, Josh admitted to having an account on Ashley Madison.

“I signed up for the site foolishly and ignorantly with a group of friends and I deeply apologize for any embarrassment or pain I have brought to my wife and family,” he told Us Weekly at the time. “We both look forward to moving past this and getting on with our lives.”

As for Jionni, his wife came to his defense shortly after the leak and slammed the cheating rumors. “I’m lucky if he knows how to even use a computer, yet go on Ashley Madison to cheat on me,” Snooki said during an episode of her “Naturally Nicole” podcast. “It’s so stupid, and we honestly think, like, someone is trying to f–k with us because this isn’t the first story that Jionni’s been cheating on me. But all these stories never have evidence. There’s never a photo, there’s never text messages, there’s nothing.”

Who Is the Ashley Madison Founder?

Darren Morgenstern founded the company which was named using two of the most popular female names at the time. Noel Biderman was the man in charge before stepping down as chief executive officer in August 2015. 

“I helped to turn Avid Life Media [Ashley Madison’s parent company] in to one of the largest online dating companies in the world. I was instrumental in developing online real estate portals in Canada and Internationally,” Noel – who is a former lawyer and sports agent and currently – states, via his LinkedIn profile. “I am currently helping SME use consumer and employee data to make more efficient decisions, and better compete with large companies in their peer set.”

Prior to his company’s scandal, Noel penned a book titled Cheaters Prosper: How Infidelity Will Save the Modern Marriage in 2011.

Noel married Amanda Biderman in 2003. While his personal website states that he is a “founder, author, speaker, lecturer and father,” and does not mention “husband,” Noel thanked his wife at the end of The Ashley Madison Affair for standing by him. 

Is Ashley Madison Still Around?

Despite its worldwide scandal, Ashley Madison is still in operation nearly a decade later, using the same tagline. 

“Every day, people just like you join the Ashley Madison network to find discreet relationships of all kinds,” the website reads. “Married, attached, looking to explore, or just curious to discover what’s out there – Ashley Madison is the leading discreet, like-minded dating community in the world.”

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