The Ashley Madison hack, the satanic scourge of the interwebs that tempts good men to do awful things, is a gift that keeps on giving. As various data scientists and media outlets have had time to sort through and digest the data, it’s rumored that countless of famous or otherwise high profile men had paid accounts on the adultery-facilitating website. But did AshleyMadison.com actually, in fact, facilitate any adultery? It’s highly unlikely, because according to a data analysis by Gizmodo editor-in-chief Annalee Newitz, there weren’t actually any women on Ashley Madison. All the Einhorn’s were Finkles:
“Those millions of Ashley Madison men were paying to hook up with women who appeared to have created profiles and then simply disappeared. Were they cobbled together by bots and bored admins, or just user debris? Whatever the answer, the more I examined those 5.5 million female profiles, the more obvious it became that none of them had ever talked to men on the site, or even used the site at all after creating a profile. Actually, scratch that. As I’ll explain below, there’s a good chance that about 12,000 of the profiles out of millions belonged to actual, real women who were active users of Ashley Madison.”
As she talks through the numbers, it’s pretty damning. Men outnumbered women on Ashley Madison nearly 6-1, that much has never been in dispute by anyone. But in terms of actual, active women, the vast majority of accounts fail by every conceivable measure. For starters, about 10,000 accounts were registered with an @ashleymadison.com email address. In an attempt at preserving a sense of parity, Newitz concedes that these accounts could have been created by real women who didn’t want to give out their real information. Except, that’s not even remotely true – virtually every site that would have you create a profile (including message boards, dating sites, etc.) requires that you verify your email address. That can’t be done, obviously, if you’re using someone else’s.
She then looked at accounts tied to the loopback or “home” IP address, 127.0.0.1. There were over 80,000 of these, 82% of which were marked as female – unusual, since the site overall was supposed to be 85% male. You’ll note that so far we’re only in the 10,000s, hardly an indictment when there are supposed to be some 5 million women on the site. That is, until you get to better measures of human activity: Inbox and chat useage. A whopping 20 million+ male profiles checked their messages at least once, compared to 1,500 women. 11 million dudes used the chat function, compared with just 2,400 women. Who were they chatting with? Fuck if I know. Bots, other dudes, or Ashley Madison employees pretending to be women, most likely.
In the end, Newitz found about 12,000 female profiles where the users had paid to have them removed (a vile practice), a sure sign of human activity. Consider a recent Washington Post story that strongly suggests that Ashley Madison and other sites frequently hire real, human women to create fake profiles and entertain male customers, and a very sad picture begins to emerge: Millions of sad, lonely men, who desperately want to cheat on their wives (or at least, fuck married women), and the most they ever got was a conversation with an Eastern European stripper posing as an uncharacteristically hot mom from Des Moines.
It's kind of spectacular, when you think about it. These 30+ million men knew they were taking on some amount of risk when they joined Ashley Madison – if it were ever known that they were on it, most of their marriages (and in the case of higher profile people, their careers) would likely be over. But now, to know that they took on this risk with no possibility of a corresponding reward, the whole thing's gone from amusing to absolutely fucking amazing. If your husband or boyfriend's address was in the database, take some solace in the fact that he probably never actually cheated on you – he just wanted to.
Ladies, if you (or someone you know) were among the 12,000 or so actual women to create an Ashley Madison profile, email me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear your story.