A security breach that exposed secret user data on the marital affair site Ashley Madison, which we reported on previously, revealed that the women who supposedly were listed on the site included a large number of what appears to be fake accounts.
Gizmodo editor-in-chief Annalee Newitz reports that an in-depth analysis leads to this conclusion: “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.”
Us magazine examined the Gizmodo analysis and reported: “The official numbers from the site showed that 31 million of the accounts belonged to men while 5 million supposedly were linked to females. However, Newitz took a deeper dive into the landscape of Ashley Madison and found that a whopping 10,000 accounts were created with the Ashleymadison.com email, implying that they were test subscriptions. Nine thousand of those 10,000 belonged to women.”
Focusing on three data fields — time stamps, chat users and message replies — the Gizmodo analysis found a “disproportionate number” of fake accounts or test accounts.
“Using the data field of mail_last_time, Newitz found that only 1,492 of the women on the site had ever checked messages, compared to the 20 million-plus men,” Us reports.
Similarly, only 2,400 women had accessed chat_last_time, vs. 11 million-plus men, the Us report notes. And only 9,700 women had ever replied to a message, compared with 5.9 million men.
Newitz adds: “Out of 5.5 million female accounts, roughly zero percent had ever shown any kind of activity at all, after the day they were created.”
“What I discovered was that the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized,” Newitz writes on Gizmodo. “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.”
The Gizmodo report concludes: “Ashley Madison employees did a pretty decent job making their millions of women’s accounts look alive. They left the data in these inactive accounts visible to men, showing nicknames, pictures, sexy comments. But when it came to data that was only visible … to company admins, they got sloppy. … Either way, we’re left with data that suggests Ashley Madison is a site where tens of millions of men write mail, chat, and spend money for women who aren’t there.”
Among the users whose subscriptions were exposed in the data breach were reality personalities Josh Duggar of “19 Kids and Counting” and Josh Taekman, the husband of “Real Housewives of New York” star Kristen Taekman, Us notes.