Always read the T&Cs

The Ashley Madison saga continues to entertain and inform the watching public. For example, it turns out that the click-wrap T&C agreement warns users that they may be interacting not with real people but with feminised bots.

According to the Guardian, the relevant passage in the current T&Cs reads thus:

You acknowledge and agree that any profiles of users and Members, as well as, communications from such persons may not be true, accurate or authentic and may be exaggerated or based on fantasy. You acknowledge and understand that you may be communicating with such persons and that we are not responsible for such communications.

But it turns out that this formulation is toned down from a previous clause, present in February of this year, which was more explicit about the presence of fake accounts. The February version explained that the robot accounts were created “In order to allow persons who are Guests on our Site to experience the type of communications they can expect as Members”.

The profiles we create are not intended to resemble or mimic any actual persons. We may create several different profiles that we attach to a given picture. You understand and acknowledge that we create these profiles and that these profiles are not based on or associated with any user or Member of our Service or any other real person. You also acknowledge and agree that the descriptions, pictures and information included in such profiles are provided primarily for your amusement and to assist you navigate and learn about our Site. As part of this feature, the profiles may offer, initiate or send winks, private keys, and virtual gifts. Any one of these profiles may message with multiple users at the same or substantially the same times just like our users.

Our profiles message with Guest users, but not with Members. Members interact only with profiles of actual persons. Guests are contacted by our profiles through computer generated messages, including emails and instant messages. These profiles are NOT conspicuously identified as such.

Truly, you couldn’t make this stuff up. I shouldn’t complain, I suppose, because the Ashley Madison saga is a perfect case-study for the book chapter I’m working on at the moment.