Internet and New Electronics a Boon — and Bane — for Adulterers

The Internet seems like the ideal place to cheat: it is seemingly anonymous and full of other people looking for extramarital relationships. But for those inclined to use the Internet to start and maintain a clandestine relationship, it is important to understand the true nature of the Internet and the risks involved in conducting an affair online.

The recent scandal involving Anthony Weiner is a good example. Weiner had inappropriate email, text and Twitter conversations with several women, including sending the women explicit photos of himself. One of the photos was shared with the public, which Weiner initially denied involvement, but then quickly admitted his actions, with apologies to his new wife and the public.

Though surfing the web seems anonymous, and that one can send an email or photo to someone without others discovering the conversation, the reality is that information sent out into the World Wide Web never really goes away. Websites use cookies to tailor user experiences to each individual, and browsers keep track of web history. Some websites, like Facebook and Twitter, allow users to set some privacy settings, but still require a username and basic personal information to set up an account.

Some websites exist solely to facilitate affairs, like ashleymadison.com. The site allows men and women to search profiles of potential partners and set up meetings. Even though the website strives to be discreet, it still requires an email address, username and city of residence to set up an account, and users are able to share more information if inclined.

Cheating on the Internet creates a virtual paper trail that can be used as ammunition in divorce proceedings as long as information was not obtained by violating websites' privacy policies or a spouse's right to privacy. Though searching for partners online may seem like a safe, anonymous activity, it actually creates evidence of inappropriate behavior that a marriage may not survive.