Shame hacking: attack on dating site for ‘beautiful people’ is actually pretty scary

There’s a schadenfreude to the news today that the dating site was hacked.

It’s a site that only lets in the genetically blessed based on some mysterious beauty metric – and today the personal data of 1.1 million members is for sale on the black market. It’s only a slice of data from 2015, and the company says the leak’s been patched up, but data once stolen can never be controlled: and so 1.1 million names of self-declared Beautiful People will now begin circulating.

Like the Ashley Madison hack – which left 39 million people on a dating site for married people exposed and their names suddenly searchable – there’s a joy in shaming people who would sign up for such a thing. “Online dating for beautiful people only,” the website announces.

“ is the largest internet dating community exclusively for the beautiful,” it reads. “Members rate new applicants over a 48 hour period based on whether or not they find the applicant ‘beautiful’.”

The gall they have! The hubris!

But at the risk of sounding like a school marm: watch yourself.

First, is a genius idea because it’s just honest. It’s what nightclubs already do quite effectively, and it’s what we all try our best to do on Tinder. Where online dating service The League explicitly bases entry on wealth and education – BeautifulPeople is just hot folks looking for hot love. If clear skin and a tight waist is a religion (which, at least in America, it is), this is their JDate, and I am not here to judge.

But more importantly, hacking to shame is a scary pattern. Most active, casual, relatively sloppy young internet users (like myself) are having their data bought and sold all day long, bartered legally or illegally.

And, most active, casual, relatively sloppy humans (like myself) have a sex life that’s lived, at least in part, online.

As the author W Somerset Maugham wrote: “My own belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.”

Symmetrical faces couldn’t save the beautiful people. And it’s funny to see the mighty fall. But the spotlight can fall on any of us. And it will.

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