21

The hackers who procured and recently published Ashley Madison's internal databases, the so-called "Impact Team," have claimed that the accounts in the databases were predominantly, in fact "90-95%" owned by men (see graphic below). Is this true or is there reason to believe it to be true?

Time's Up!

  • 3
    Would the data the hackers published be considered a reliable source? I do not think that would be a fair assessment. I imagine AM have published a few statistics, I would personally count their statistics slightly more than some hacker group. – Jonathon Aug 19 '15 at 20:11
  • 7
    Removed the question "Are dating site participants 90% male?" Because this is about Ashley Madison's dating site and not all dating sites. – George Chalhoub Aug 19 '15 at 21:23
  • 7
    @JonathonWisnoski I would argue the reverse, since the hackers have less of a reason to falsify that data than the websites, which presumably have financial interests to falsify the data. – March Ho Aug 20 '15 at 2:58
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there is no way to acquire independent and reliable information to answer this question. That makes the question unanswerable. – gerrit Aug 20 '15 at 9:51
  • 6
    I'm not sure if this helps or hinders. Sorry: tecnilogica.cartodb.com/viz/… – Oddthinking Aug 20 '15 at 12:28
22

Here's an independent verification of the leak, analyzed in further detail:

http://gizmodo.com/almost-none-of-the-women-in-the-ashley-madison-database-1725558944

While you can remain skeptical of this source, as well, you could also download the data leak yourself and analyze the data. Similar to faking the moon landing, it would take more effort to fabricate the data (clearing up any foreign key issues, evidence of tampering, etc.) than it would to just leak the database as it was retrieved from the Ashley Madison servers.

Note that the 'as user reported' split is 84.96% Male : 15.04% female, fake and unused and unconfirmed and unpaid profiles included.

User Ratio

Checked Messages

Used Chat

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.

Sure, some of these inactive accounts were probably created by real, live women (or men pretending to be women) who were curious to see what the site was about. Some probably wanted to find their cheating husbands. Others were no doubt curious journalists like me. But they were still overwhelmingly inactive. They were not created by women wanting to hook up with married men. They were static profiles full of dead data, whose sole purpose was to make men think that millions of women were active on Ashley Madison.

  • UK tech site The Register also did a similar independent analysis, and based on signs of actual activity and participation, estimated that only 1.44% of active users were female - theregister.co.uk/2015/08/27/ashley_madison_men – user56reinstatemonica8 Aug 28 '15 at 9:58
  • +1 for a reasonably good answer, but I think you should include the caveat that the leak could have been artificially synthesised from existing leaks from sites other than Ashley Madison (as an alternative to making up all of the 30 plus million accounts). See the second part of this analysis for more information. – March Ho Aug 28 '15 at 12:38
  • @MarchHo the second part of that analysis is very obviously not about the original leak, signed by the Impact Team's PGP Key. "Bhatia said the format of the fake leaks has been changing constantly over the last few weeks... Originally, it was being posted through Imgur.com and Pastebin.com, and now we’re seeing files going out over torrents, the Dark Web, and TOR-based URLs". They are analyzing things, and claiming they are fake, but what they are analyzing is not the original, signed, leak. – Ehryk Aug 28 '15 at 15:41
  • I (personally) am skeptical that the Impact Team would go through the trouble, and potential of discredit, of tampering or altering the leaks - and addressed it above. To quote some Modest Mouse, "It takes more time to make a fake". – Ehryk Aug 28 '15 at 15:43
  • 4
    The gizmodo article that this whole answer rests on has been updated since this post: "The number of female users reported in this article are based in part on a misinterpretation of the data. We’ve done a thorough analysis of the source code and offered a new interpretation here." – goldPseudo Sep 4 '15 at 14:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .