Self Is It OK To Expose A Cheater Online?

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They say "Hell hath no fury" as a man or woman scorned, and if anything is proof of the truth of that statement, it's

The controversial site—which launched on Valentine's Day 2011—allows users to publicly shame the unfaithful men and women by posting stories of indiscretion, accompanied by names, photographs, and even job titles.

Founder and CEO James McGibney, a former Marine, developed the idea after returning from deployment to find out that his buddy's wife had been cheating. Now, less than six months since its launch, Cheaterville has millions of page views and more than 25,000 subscribers checking the site for familiar philandering faces.

Later this year he plans to launch Cupidville, an online dating site for people who have been victims of cheating, and Karmaville, a site that will solicit and make weekly donations to good causes, the first of which is a battered women's shelter in Las Vegas.

But despite the explosive popularity of the site, McGibey has taken his fair share of criticism. He took some time to chat with us about the Cheaterville mission, ethical concerns, and his plans for the future.

YourTango: You launched less than 6 months ago. What has been the overall response so far?

James McGibney: There are people who are thrilled about it because they find out their suspicions are true, that their significant others are cheating on them. There wasn't proof before—it's really hard to catch someone on Facebook. On Cheaterville, they post it and others respond with concrete evidence.

On the other side of the spectrum, I get questions about how we verify that the information is correct, and concerns about slander and defamation of character. Our take is that we're not judge or jury.

There might be posts that aren't 100 percent true, but that's not for me to decide. I have to focus on the bigger picture, which is all the good that is coming from helping others out and catching people cheating.

What kinds of good?

One really nice thing about Cheaterville, which happens every day, is that someone will post something about a cheater, it then gets blasted on Facebook, and the accused responds directly to the post. They can refute the information, but a lot of people come clean and apologize. At that point, the person who posted the initial cheater information can remove it or make it not visible on the site. It's a form of forgiveness. I'm not a psychologist, but it seems to be very therapeutic for all parties involved.

I'm really interested in the ethical implications of a site like Cheaterville. Is letting the world know someone has cheated a violation of their privacy?

I can see how some people think that's true, that it should stay private. But I believe in fighting back, in standing up for yourself. I think that is what Cheaterville is all about.

As for the ethical question, if the reason I found out my significant other cheated is by catching an STD, and I then have to get tested, I'd feel more of an ethical implication to put it on the site, make people aware that she had one.

I'm hoping it helps stop people from cheating. Look at Anthony Weiner, or Schwarzenegger. They're sorry because they got caught, not because they did it. I think this site makes people pause. If someone is about to cheat on his wife, he may not because of the threat of being blasted on Cheaterville. Why Powerful Men Cheat

So you don't worry about untrue posts?

There are some that I read where I sit back and wonder if the stories are really true. Some of them are so far out there. But at the end of the day, it goes up on the site. We do filter the posts; hundreds a day come through containing personal information—phone numbers, social security numbers, credit card numbers. We had a guy today who found out his wife was cheating with his buddy, so he posted his buddy's wife's number so people could let her know about the affair. That stuff never makes the site. Safety is our number one concern.

What kind of response have you gotten from actual cheaters? Do they threaten legal action?

We've never had a lawsuit. We have been threatened with them, though. But we're governed by the same laws as Facebook—the Communications Decency Act of 1996. At the end of the day, we are not the publishers. We're a social networking site where others can post information.

What kind of people post to your site? It looks like there are a lot of female cheaters.

It's interesting; I had a lot of men come up to me and call me a man-basher. The reality of it is there are more women who are posted as cheaters on our site than men. And they are mid-level professionals; we're seeing an older crowd.

We also get a lot of traffic coming from People meet on Match, they chat, get ready to meet and have their first date, but first check to see if they are on Cheaterville to make sure the other person isn't a player.

Have any success stories to share?

We've had people apologize. We see posts about cheating that happened two years ago. The victim never got over it, so they post it on Cheaterville. The cheater finds out they're on the site and they reply—it's usually remorseful. Some say that the incident helped them become a better person. Cheating has a negative connotation, but you can learn from your mistakes. Why Cheating Can Actually *Help* Your Marriage

Have you ever cheated?

I had cheated before I was married. I saw the devastation it caused when I cheated, which made me a better person. I'm happily married—I don't cheat on my wife. She always jokes that if I ever did, I'd have to close the company down.

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