PRIVACY

More Than 1 Million “Beautiful People” Hacked, Dating Info Exposed

Notoriously vain dating website hit by hackers

PRIVACY
Illustration: Tara Jacoby
Apr 25, 2016 at 1:39 PM ET

A dating website that controversially only accepted “beautiful” people—to middling success—has been hacked, and some 1.1 million users’ personal information is now reportedly for sale online.

Though the hack is believed to have occurred in November, it’s only now that its scope has been confirmed. Microsoft researcher Troy Hunt, who maintains a searchable database where concerned users can check if their data has been exposed called haveibeenpwned.com, announced 1,100,089 exposed beautifulpeople.com accounts Monday.

The site gained notoriety for placing a paramount emphasis on daters’ looks—would-be users submit a photo and are voted in or out by the other members. Writer Kevin Nguyen tried the site as a stunt in 2011, and while his own photo was rejected, two others—an unknown pretty woman he named “Harper Lee” and a photo of actor Ryan Reynolds, whom Nguyen named “Ryan R.,”—were accepted. He found that the site’s emphasis on attributes, rather than interests, was a bit stifling as a place to find a partner: “I could hypothetically search for a 21-year-old, 112 lbs., 5’7” girl who owns a house in Omaha, but not search for someone who was interested in rock climbing,” he wrote.

The fact that the site asks for and maintains such specific information from users means that the hack is remarkably revealing. According to Hunt, the exposed user data includes whether they own a car or home, their drinking habits, their job history, income level, and sexual preferences, as well as more conventional data like email address, gender, and geographic location. 170 .gov addresses—email addresses given to government employees—were in the breach, Hunt noted

Relationship sites are relatively common targets for such breaches, and can be among the most embarrassing to be made public. Ashley Madison, which billed itself as a place for married people to find partners with whom to cheat, was hacked in June 2015, revealing the email addresses of some 30 million users and leading to a number of divorces. Hookup site Adult FriendFinder was hacked two months before, exposing basic information, as well as race, languages spoken, and relationship status, of at least 4 million people. In February 2016, dating site mate1.com was hacked, revealing a host of information, including sexual habits, of some 27 million users.

Beautifulpeople.com did not respond to emailed requests for comment, and calls to their single phone number consistently rang as busy for several hours Monday morning.

There may be more beautifulpeople.com users whose information was not exposed by the hack—or the site is better than some competitors about truly deleting unused accounts. Three women who signed up for the site for a 2015 Daily Dot story—also as a lark—all shared their login emails with Vocativ. None were in Hunt’s database Monday.