Ashley Madison swears that real women totally use its site

1 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Adultery site Ashley Madison insists it’s not shutting down after hack.

Ashley Madison, the embattled website catering to affair-seeking clients, today rejected predictions that it will soon be forced to shutter its operations, saying its troubles have been “greatly exaggerated.” The site’s parent company Avid Life Media said in a statement that — far from facing imminent demise after hackers released its members’ emails and account information — the company actually is growing.

OTTAWA – Embattled dating-for-cheaters website Ashley Madison insisted Monday that a massive hack and release of user data had not affected the site’s prospects, with hundreds of thousands of new members — including real women. How is one supposed to imagine a future for it in the wake of a hack that led to the public shaming of many of the site’s members and the resignation of its parent company’s CEO? Unfortunately for her, ‘Looking for characters for a documentary’ was not one of the options listed on the site. (Holly Moore/CBC) I am part of the Ashley Madison hack. The firm said news site Gizmodo “made incorrect assumptions” about some of the leaked data, leading it to overstate damage that the scandal has inflicted on Ashley Madison — as well as underestimating the number of women who used the site. “This reporter concluded that the number of active female members on Ashley Madison could be calculated based on those assumptions.

Reporting its death is a perfectly reasonable trap, one that I fell into when writing about the site last week, as I described what its users “had” done, operating on the implicit assumption that they wouldn’t be doing it anymore. After Biderman refused to bend to the hackers’ demand to take Ashley Madison and another site offline, the perpetrators began to leak data stolen from the company’s networks. The hacker gang claimed it wanted to bring attention to the fact that Ashley Madison was charging clients a fee to delete their personal information but was in fact archiving it.

At first, the data was only about Ashley Madison’s spouse-cheating customers, but last week, private emails from Biderman’s corporate account hit the web. In a press release issued Monday morning, Avid Life Media—which owns and operates Ashley Madison, along with other platforms such as Cougar Life—struck back against critics who claimed that the site’s best days were behind it. “Recent media reports predicting the imminent demise of Ashley Madison are greatly exaggerated,” the statement begins. Police in Toronto, along with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ontario provincial police, US Homeland Security, the Pentagon and the American FBI are probing the data breach. We are steadfast in our commitment to our customer base.” The statement didn’t indicate the sudden reason for Biderman’s departure, but it comes days after revelations of Biderman’s alleged infidelities.

Trustify advertises Ashley Madison reports at $199 for a “comprehensive review about what personal details had been made available” — all delivered to my in-box within 72 hours. If those numbers turned you off, never fear: In its recent press release, Ashley Madison claims that 87,596 totally real women who are definitely real have signed up in the “past week alone.” In its specificity, this number is clearly meant to carry the weight of authority and truth.

But despite encouraging other people to have affairs, Biderman, a married father with two young children, had long insisted that he had never cheated on his wife, nor did he want to. Given the amount of publicity the site has received, it’s entirely possible that some new users created accounts, whether out of curiosity, intent to troll, or even real desire.

At the time of that interview, the leaked emails suggest he may have already been engaging in a three-year sexual relationship with a Toronto escort who may have been paid for her favors. Of course, if existing engagement ratios hold, only 26 of those definitely real women are ever going to take a gander at what other users write to them. Without naming Newitz, it suggests that her analysis was flawed, asserting that she based it on “incorrect assumptions about the meaning of fields contained in the leaked data.” Claiming that women sent “more than 2.8 million messages within our platform” in the last week, the site’s press office goes on to assert that the ratio of active male accounts to active female accounts—accounts which were, presumably, operated by entirely real “people,” though the press release isn’t clear on this point—was 1.2 to 1. I talked to him this morning and my sense of guilt made me imagine that he knows.” Biderman appears to have offered her a job with the company, writing her in October that “I will also have a good ‘signing bonus’ for you :).” The woman later declined the job, however.

WIRED was unable to determine if the specific emails suggesting infidelity are legitimate, but they were released with other files that have been verified.

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