This article is more than 1 year old

The most tragic thing about the Ashley Madison hack? It was really 1% actual women

Tiny percentage of ladies checked messages, it seems

When the Ashley Madison databases were splashed all over the internet by hackers, it emerged that about 31 million accounts on the Tinder-for-affairs website were created by men. And about 5 million by women.

Not great odds if you're a straight fella looking to cheat on your spouse. It turns out the odds were even worse: very few of the women on Ashley Madison were using the site in a meaningful way.

By our counting, of the 35,290,361 leaked accounts marked as approved, 4,594,069 were each created by a woman (or someone who said they were a woman).

However, 4,085,458 of those women don't appear to have ever checked their message inboxes on the website – the database entries for those accounts read a default "0000-00-00 00:00:00" for that particular timestamp.

People on Ashley Madison can send private messages to woo and seduce one another; it seems only 508,611 women actually checked their inboxes. There's also a built-in instant chat system, but, similarly, just 505,548 women ever used it.

Just 1.44 per cent of the website's lusty users were women who actually attempted to interact with other people via the site, it seems. All the rest created an account, and then walked away unfulfilled, it appears. Perhaps they were never real in the first place. This explains why so many people believed the website was awash with fake profiles.

That's for accounts created between January 2002 and mid-2015 when the databases were siphoned off by Impact Team. If we take just the accounts active in 2014 as a snapshot, 375 out of 946,919 women checked their website inboxes at least once out of 9,438,298 total profiles. By active, we mean users who updated their profile in some way.

'Debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives'

Journalist Annalee Newitz also crunched through the data, and claims about 12,000 women were real active users on the adultery website versus 20 million men.

"The world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized," Newitz wrote earlier on Wednesday on Gizmodo.

"This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly designed robots."

Don't forget it costs money to use Ashley Madison as a man: you have to spend credits to send messages to people, and credits cost dollars – 100 credits will set you back $49. Women can use the site for free.

Sheelah Kolhatkar, who in 2011 signed up for an account on to write a cover story for Bloomberg Businessweek about what it was like to be a woman on the bloke-crammed website, said this week she was "inundated with messages from men who behaved like lions fighting over a piece of meat." Romantic!

A spokesperson for Ashley Madison owner Avid Life Media, which is based in Toronto, Canada, could not be reached for immediate comment. ®

Updated to add

Avid Life Media has said Gizmodo's numbers are wrong, and that "hundreds of thousands" of people signed up for accounts in the last week of August, including "87,596 women."

"Last week alone, women sent more than 2.8 million messages within our platform," the company added in a statement on Monday, August 31.

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like