But what about the women?
Turns out, there may not have been very many women. As in, almost none.
Gizmodo writer Annalee Newlitz analysed the data from the site’s user database and found a lot of suspicious stuff that suggest nearly all the female accounts were fake, maintained by the company’s employees.
First, the official numbers. The info that the hackers published contained about 31 million accounts apparently belonging to men, and about 5 million apparently belonging to women.
But when Newlitz dug deeper, she found a bunch of test accounts that ended with ashleymadison.com, suggesting that they were created internally (90% of them were for women), and a 350 female accounts for people with the same and very unusual last name.
Then, she found three really damning pieces of data:
- Only 1,492 of the women in the database had ever checked their messages on the site. That’s compared with more than 20 million men.
- Only 2,409 of the women had ever used the site’s chat function, versus more than 11 million men.
- Only 9,700 women had ever responded to a message from another person on the site, versus almost 6 million men.
It’s possible that most of the women signed up but never did anything.
But either way, Newlitz writes, “Ashley Madison is a site where tens of millions of men write mail, chat, and spend money for women who aren’t there.”
The site’s parent company, Avid Life Media, did not immediately return a request for comment.