And similarly I find it hard to swallow the thought that a website designed for “finding an affair and cheating partners” – that has been plastered over newspaper headlines for months after millions of its users were exposed by a hack – could have increased its membership by 20%, adding over five million new members since it was attacked.
Yes, Ashley Madison is claiming it has over 43 million users today.
It seems to me that there are a few possibilities:
- The code Ashley Madison uses to display a membership number on the front of its website is a bit buggy, and has made a mistake counting its users. Perhaps the number is cumulative and doesn’t include those who frantically deleted their accounts after the hack became front page news.
- Ashley Madison has invested further in fembots – fake female profiles that are designed to trick unsuspecting men into reaching for the credit card, fooling them into thinking that they are about to start chatting with a real woman rather than an algorithm.
- The number displayed on Ashley Madison’s front page is pure fiction.
- The number is correct. Despite many bad headlines, and losing its CEO, Ashley Madison has used the breach publicity to its advantage and convinced many more people to sign-up for its service. Of course, this raises the question of just who are the people who are signing up?
What do you think is the most plausible explanation for Ashley Madison’s numbers? I have a theory. It’s a theory you have a pretty good chance of guessing. But I cannot prove it because, frankly, no-one other than Ashley Madison can tell us how many users they might really have.
Unless, of course, they open themselves up to an independent audit. And I can’t picture them doing that any time soon.
Ashley Madison was hoping to float on the stock market last year, so any suggestion that they might not have been entirely accurate in their membership numbers is something that would go down like a lead balloon with investors.
So, let’s hope that they have managed to put all their troubles behind them, and resurrect their business in miraculous fashion.
Of course, even if true, 43 million users doesn’t mean 43 million paying users.
And the Ashley Madison’s claims that it currently has “over 43,485,000 anonymous members” are a bit rich considering that details of some 32 million apparent members have been floating around the internet for months, and many have received blackmail threats. I wouldn’t call that anonymous.
It may also be time for the company to stop bragging about being “as seen on BBC News, Reuters, The Sun, The Telegraph, The Times” too.
Not the kind of publicity I would imagine any website would welcome.Further reading:
- Ashley Madison's leaked database available for download - read this first
- Ashley Madison blackmailers now sending threats via US postal system
- Here's what an Ashley Madison blackmail letter looks like
- Now it's Ashley Madison wives who are receiving blackmail letters
- 'Bring me the head of the AC/DC-loving Ashley Madison hacker'
- Suicide and Ashley Madison
- Ashley Madison: Betting site offers odds on who will be exposed
- 'Yes. I was a member of the Ashley Madison website. But I wasn’t there to cheat on anyone'
- Ashley Madison hack could expose 37 million 'cheating dirtbags'
- No Ashley Madison, you weren't burgled by terrorists
- Ashley Madison users warned of password risk
- Cracked Ashley Madison passwords consistent with years of poor security
- Post-hack, Ashley Madison offers members full and free account deletion
- Don't judge Ashley Madison users too quickly, their accounts may be fake
- Just who is joining the Ashley Madison website?
- Fembots land Ashley Madison in hot water with the FTC
- Ashley Madison's marketing department clearly didn't get the memo
- Ashley Madison: Further thoughts on its aftermath
- Ashley Madison hack claims another victim: Its CEO
- Ashley Madison slammed with $1.6 million fine for devastating data breach
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