Ashley Madison users who are annoyed that they wasted money chatting with robots have no reason to be upset — it turns out the company told them all about it in its terms of service. The Guardian points out that before signing up with Ashley Madison, users had to agree that they understood that not all profiles on the site would be of real people and that the website created its own profiles for its own purposes.
“We may create several different profiles that we attach to a given picture,” the terms read. “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.”
Ashley Madison has a credit-based system where if someone messages you, you have to buy a credit to message them back. Many users who got pinged by these robots claim they had to buy credits to interact with them and felt the website was being deceptive. Ashley Madison said that “criminal elements” were behind these fake profiles and pledged to refund any users who paid money to flirt with robots.
However, the ToS state very clearly that users would be getting messages from these robo-profiles, so they really don’t have a leg to stand on if they try suing Ashley Madison for fraud in court.
So if you’re signing up for a shady website like Ashley Madison with a dodgy reputation, read the terms of service before taking the plunge.