FTC Investigating Ashley Madison, New CEO Confirms

The hack that leaked 30 million customers’ data all over the internet may be a year in the past, but things are still rough for intentional-infidelity dating site Ashley Madison, which now finds itself the target of a federal probe.

As Reuters reports, the new CEO has confirmed that the site and its parent company, Avid Life Media, are currently under investigation by the FTC.

The site last year infamously suffered a major hack, which led the old CEO to step down and triggered lawsuits from aggrieved customers who felt they’d been lied to.

Earlier investigations have shown that Ashley Madison was using “fembots” — an legion of automated fake female profiles — to lure in men. The user base of the site tilts roughly five-to-one towards male customers, Reuters reports.

Neither the FTC nor Ashley Madison has specified if those fembots are the target of the investigation, but it is possible. When Reuters asked, the new CEO said, “That’s a part of the ongoing process that we’re going through … it’s with the FTC right now.”

It seems distinctly plausible, if not likely, that the fembot issue is at least part of the FTC’s probe: In 2014, as part of a settlement with the FTC, a different dating site paid over $600,000 to customers in redress for doing the exact same thing.

The FTC also is the agency that has jurisdiction over customers’ data and services’ privacy policies. If a site’s claims to customers (like, “your data is safe with us”) don’t match the reality (“oops, it turns out your data is not at all safe with us”) that, too, can be an area of FTC intervention.

Infidelity website Ashley Madison facing FTC probe, CEO apologizes [Reuters]

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