The Ashley Madison Hack
July 20th, 2015

So Ashley Madison, America’s premier website for married people who want to have an affair, has been hacked, with all of the pictures, personal information, and credit card details of its members now in the hands of hackers. This is going to be the biggest blackmail scheme in the history of history. Or, as a buddy of mine quipped, “Well, all those guys who signed up for Ashley Madison wanted to get fucked.”

One side note, though. Ashely Madison claims to have 37 million members. Does this seem at all plausible to you? Let’s do a quick rundown through the demographics:

(1) There are only 129 million married people in the United States.

(2) Of those, there are only 79 million in the prime affair cohort of 25 to 55 years of age.

(3) That means that Ashley Madison is claiming that almost half of all married people in their prime years are using the site? Are you kidding? (And that leave aside the fact that the bottom income quintile is probably less likely to use Ashley Madison because of money and internet access.)

(4) One more data point: The hackers say that the reason they’ve taken Ashley Madison down is that the site offered to erase all of a member’s user data for a one-time $19 payment, but that the company never actually erased the data. Further, they claim that in 2014, the company made $1.7 million from these non-erasure fees. But that’s just 89,000 people. Which is just 0.2 percent of 37 million. It strikes me that a site like Ashley Madison would have a much higher user churn rate than 0.2 percent, no?

All of which is to say that the 37 million users number seems highly dubious. Like, internet bubble circa 1999, dubious.

  1. Nedward July 20, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    I say the db is close to worthless — it’s not like jacking Sony’s or Rodham’s emails. If you are technically savvy or of means it’s possible to never directly reveal authentic bio to such a site. Anyone prominent enough or at risk of a newsworthy divorce wouldn’t need AM in the first place. That Gawker/Conde Nast episode doesn’t require it.

    My assumption is that the lion’s share of male users are middle-class timid johns (despite the “jetset CEO” marketing) and the majority of women on it are suburban part-time hookers with no elite connections. The latter probably drive AM’s revenue since they’re too old & domestically obligated for the online sugar-baby cattle call monopolized by urban co-eds.

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  3. AOHenry July 23, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    SO you’re surprised that a site for cheaters might —- cheat?