The massive leak of 35 million people’s data from the online extramarital dating site Ashley Madison has allowed for an abundance of insight into its users, including their dating preferences, where they live and which universities they went to.
But when Gizmodo Editor in Chief Annalee Newitz analyzed the data released by Impact Team, she found some red flags that may suggest that most female accounts on the website were fake.
Impact Team had asserted that “thousands” were faked, and later it said 90 to 95 percent were, though it did not provide evidence of that statement.
That’s when Newitz downloaded the data to find out the truth. The 31.3 million male profiles and only 5.5 million female profiles were just the tip of the iceberg. At first it appeared as though none of the women had so much as sent a message after creating their profile, reported Gizmodo.
Newitz suspects it is likely that about 12,000 actual women were using Ashley Madison actively.
She cites the case of a former employee at the company who was hired to create 1,000 fake profiles in three months, who later sued the company for poor working conditions.
Newitz also points to a clause in the user agreement that says the site may also be used for “entertainment,” instead of “seeking person meetings with anyone they meet on the Service,” and suggests that those facts are indicative of Ashley Madison habitually creating fake accounts.
Newitz found about 10,000 profiles with an email attached to them that ends in @ashleymadison.com, 90 percent of which were female accounts. Analysis of the IP addresses associated with the accounts also raises suspicion.
Two-thirds of users on the site claimed January as their birth month, a sign of people picking the first month that you can. More than 350 profiles used the unusual name of a former employee at the company.
Of the 5.5 million female profiles, only 1,492 had ever checked their messages, 2,409 had used the chat function. More than 6 million men had responded to messages.
Other forms of analysis uncovered that the leaked data also included about 6,502 email addresses with a .gov domain, but because many accounts are unverified, an email address such as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ can be made by anyone, reported Word Out.