Back in 2015 most of us remember the headline of the Ashley Madison hack. It exposed tens of thousands of names and emails of professionals, government employees as well as military email addresses that had signed up for their services.

What is Ashley Madison?

Ashley Madison marketed itself as a means to help men cheat on their spouses, using the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair.” Men weren’t the only clients – it was an equal opportunity site.

Virtually, thousands (millions) took this literally – with the assumption it would be anonymous or kept confidential. No matter how many times we have heard that there should be a zero expectation of privacy online, people (even these adults that are highly educated), lacked the moral compass (or should we say common sense) and gave their email as well as their credit card numbers never expecting a hack could happen to them… until it did.

Ashley Madison did have terms of service for those that read the fine print, it said in part:

“We cannot ensure the security or privacy of information you provide through the Internet.”

In contrast to the bold promise it makes on the website front door for “100% discreet service.”

Isn’t that how life is?  From working with parents of troubled teens (it’s always the other kids), to the headlines of youth suicides (that would never be my child (until it is), to a tragic car accident from distracted driving (that you have constantly preached you would never do) — people will push limits.

However when it comes to the Internet, it’s time we all learn to respect it and learn to use it responsibly. Never believe that bad things can’t happen to good people, sadly they do.

This week the owner of the Ashley Madison website will pay $11.2 million to settle litigation related to a 2015 data breach that exposed information on millions of users. The money will go to affected users with an average of about $3000 per individual case and up to $3,500 paid to those with multiple accounts and proper documentation.

In my opinion, is $3000 really worth the humiliation these people faced? I’m not going to name some of the public figure names that were exposed, however this is a Scarlet Letter that will follow them online (and offline) for a long time.

Honestly, I’m not here blaming Ashley Madison either. Hacks happen – and it’s exactly why “we” as digital citizens need to learn to be more concerned with what and how we share online. What goes online – stays online. Never rely on privacy settings – and especially those confidential clauses. Most are created by humans or tech, and all have room for error.

This is a learning experience that everyone should learn from – hopefully.

Coming soon – equip yourself with tools to preventing, surviving and overcoming digital disasters. Pre-order Shame Nation today!