The Evidence Mounts
Nobody disputed the dramatic gender disparity in the Ashley Madison user base, including the company itself. 5.5 million profiles are marked “female” in a database of roughly 37 million people.
When you look at the evidence, it’s hard to deny that the overwhelming majority of men using Ashley Madison weren’t having affairs. They were paying for a fantasy.
It’s also a matter of public record that some percentage of the profiles are less than real. A few years ago, a former employee of Ashley Madison sued the company in Canada over her terrible work conditions. She claimed that she’d gotten repetitive stress injuries in her hands after the company hired her to create 1,000 fake profiles of women in three months, written in Portuguese, to attract a Brazilian audience. The case was settled out of court, and Ashley Madison claimed that the woman never made any fake profiles.
Still, there is a clause in the Ashley Madison terms of service that notes that “some” people are using the site purely “for entertainment” and that they are “not seeking in person meetings with anyone they meet on the Service, but consider their communications with users and Members to be for their amusement.” The site stops short of saying these are fake people, but does admit that many profiles are for “amusement only.”
When hacker group Impact Team released the Ashley Madison data, they asserted that “thousands” of the women’s profiles were fake. Later, this number got blown up in news storiesthat asserted “90-95%” of them were fake, though nobody put forth any evidence for such an enormous number. So I downloaded the data and analyzed it to find out how many actual women were using Ashley Madison, and who they were.
What I discovered was that the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized. This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots.