When the group responsible for hacking extramarital affairs website Ashley Madison decided to release the data it scraped from the company’s database, it suggested that as many as 95 percent of members were male.
News of the lopsided member pool made the media rounds although as Gizmodo points out, nobody really presented any evidence to back up the claim which is why the publication recently decided to do so. The disparity it discovered was even worse than what The Impact Team suggested.
The data dump contained the profile information of nearly 37 million users – around 31 million men and 5.5 million women. These stats alone are enough to paint a pretty vivid picture of just how few men likely hooked up with a member of the opposite sex. That ratio of men to women, however, isn’t even close to reality.
After speaking with a data scientist, the publication set about to compare the male and female profiles in aggregate and to look for anomalous patterns. Examining members’ e-mail addresses highlighted quite a few obvious fakes (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, 300@ashleymadison and so on), as did checking the IP addresses which revealed that more than 80,000 were created locally within the company.
Other anomalies included the use of an unusual last name for hundreds of female accounts (which coincidentally, was the same last name of a former employee), the fact that only 1,492 women had ever checked their messages on the site (versus more than 20 million men that had checked their inbox at least once) and the fact that only 2,400 women had ever struck up a conversation using the site’s chat system (versus more than 11 million men that had used the chat feature).
Another field that reveals when a member had last replied to a message from another person on the site was just as telling. Gizmodo found that 5.9 million men had done so while only 9,700 women had.
All things considered, the publication came to the conclusion that there may have been just over 12,000 actual female members that had used the site. Even if that figure is off by a few thousand (or even a few hundred thousand), it suggests that tens of millions of paying men – no matter how immoral their intentions – signed up for a service to meet women that simply didn’t exist.