Data Suggests That the Men of Ashley Madison Were Chatting With Fake Women

Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

The Ashley Madison leak, which has since revealed hacked information on everyone from marriage evangelist Josh Duggar, to family evangelist Sam Rader, to athletes, universities, and media companies had another interesting detail come to the surface yesterday. Gizmodo editor-in-chief Annalee Newitz published a long survey on the women of Ashley Madison that suggests very few of the female accounts on the site were held by real women.

Newitz discovered that the second-most-popular IP address in the leak looped back to a “home” IP address that likely originated at Ashley Madison. This corroborated her discovery that many of the female test accounts were made with an email address. She writes:

To the rest of us, it’s known simply as “home,” your local computer. Any account with that IP address was likely created on a “home” computer at Ashley Madison. Interestingly, 68,709 of the profiles created with that IP address were female, and the remaining 12,000 were either male or had nothing in the gender field. That’s a huge disparity. In a database of 85% men, you’d expect any IP address to belong to about 85% men. So it’s remarkable to discover that about 82% of the accounts created from a “home” IP address are female. This strengthened the pattern I’d already seen with the email addresses — obviously fake accounts were overwhelmingly female, and numbered in the tens of thousands.

Newitz asserts that nearly all of the accounts attributed to women on the site were likely fake accounts run by employees of the company, and if there were really women cruising the site, they rarely ever opened their inboxes.

Overall, the picture is grim indeed. 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.

The men’s accounts tell a story of lively engagement with the site, with over 20 million men hopefully looking at their inboxes, and over 10 million of them initiating chats. The women’s accounts show so little activity that they might as well not be there.

In the assessment of the data, the only real confirmation available that women were indeed using the site is this:

It’s worth noting that those 12,108 women’s accounts may represent the only true number we’ve got for women who used the site. After all, paying to delete an account is a sure sign of activity, though of course it’s evidence of disengagement rather than the amorous engagement that Ashley Madison promised.

What does it all mean? The 31 million men on the site looking to have extramarital affairs weren’t even getting close, while the women hardly existed in the first place.