Infidelity purveyor Ashley Madison has always laid claim to having a copious female membership. According to statistics CEO Noel Biderman has shared with the media, Ashley Madison enjoys an overall 70/30 gendersplit — with a 1:1 male/female ratio among the under-30 set.
But the user records released by hackers that got into Ashley Madison's database reveal different demographic numbers. Of the more than 35 million records released, only 5 million — a mere 15 percent — actually belonged to women.
Yes, Ashley Madison catfished its own male members.
The disparity between the numbers the CEO touted and the actual database resonates with the allegations of angry users and industry watchdogs that say when it comes to reporting their own user numbers, paid dating sites skew, manipulate and sometimes straight-up lie.
Industry consultant and former Madison contractor David Evans says Madison has paid people to write profiles, and they’ve allowed fake profiles to proliferate on their site”.
Fake profiles are not new marketing techniques for dating and match making sites. A plethora of sites offer up slick images of sexy women coupled with professionally authored bios to get men's attention. The problem arises when men join these sites and find few if any women similar to the profiles that lured them in.
I can speak from experience on this. About nine months ago I joined a popular dating site to get some insight for a future blog post on online dating. The presence of fake profiles were hard to miss. I was showered with email notifications of flirting women prior to selecting a paid subscription option. I was suspect of that - I had purposely dumbed down my profile to appear as no one special. Once I selected a paid option I noticed a decline in flirts and invitations and the quality of probable matches declined dramatically.
I devoted a week entirely to sending flirts and liking profiles that resulted in no more than five actual conversations. I could have gone to the local mall and met more women than that in one day. I suspected at the time a large number of the profiles I was reaching out to didn't exist, were computer generated or at the least those of trolling prostitutes.
Ryan Pitcher,spent two years running a fake-profile team for Global Personals. Global Personals is parent of the massive, multinational dating platform WhiteLabelDating.com.
Ryan says the scheme supports a business model that only makes money by getting potential customers to believe said sites are harboring a multitude of available dates.
All those women just waiting to be contacted makes it worth ponying up 20 or 30 dollars a month just to message them. Once those men have signed up they find that they have been had. It's a "Gotcha!" also known as date baiting.
After the first day new members find the plethora of available women is an illusion - an illusion that targets the male sexual and emotional tensions and sucks in paying men who find themselves in a barren technical desert with a flower here and there. "Date bait" gets a lot of men.
As a matter of fact "Date Baiting" websites had gotten so bad the Federal Trade Commission made a move to reel some of them in. In 2014, the agency fined JDI Dating, a group of 18 dating sites, for messaging visitors from computer-generated “profiles,” and then charging them money to respond.
As the Ashley Madison data suggest - the FTC's efforts did little to curb date baiting. And men should consider that before signing up to some of these sites.
An Ashley Madison executive said the information released by the hackers is incomplete and causes the gender demographic to be skewed. He could be right about the data release being incomplete - not so much so about the gender makeup being skewed.
On Aug. 20, hackers released a second round of data; then on Aug. 21, a third. The Telegraph reported Aug. 21, citing a source close to the FBI’s hack investigation, that “many of the female profiles on the site were created by a relatively small amount of individuals.”
Now there is no disputing the fact that profiles on Ashley Madison and other sites greatly out number the available women. This is a fact men should consider before plunking down fees to access what they think is a gateway to waiting women.