Disgraced Cheating Site Ashley Madison Claims It Has Millions of Users That Totally Aren’t Bots This Time

Illustration for article titled Disgraced Cheating Site Ashley Madison Claims It Has Millions of Users That Totally Aren’t Bots This Time

Ashley Madison is back...supposedly. The cheating site claims it added more than 400,000 global users last month, according to a New York Post report. The supposed growth is especially surprising given that the site experienced a massive data breach in July 2015 that exposed thousands of names and addresses of adulterers including thousands of government employees and conservative reality television star Josh Duggar.

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According to the Post report, Ashley Madison claims it has signed up 52.7 million users since it was founded 15 years ago. That number is up from 36 million it claimed in 2015 at the time of the cyberattack. The difference in numbers implies steady growth even after the hacking scandal.

What’s peculiar about these numbers, however, is there isn’t much of an explanation given to explain how the site could have possibly continued to grow. Ashley Madison executives from parent company Ruby Life told the Post it doesn’t discuss numbers like daily active users for competitive reasons. The company used this reasoning to dodge questions about why the site would continue to see explosive growth after being brutally hacked.

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And there’s also the fact that Ashley Madison created a small army of bots to trick its users and inflate its numbers prior to the hack. In 2015, a Gizmodo analysis revealed that Ashley Madison created more than 70,000 female bots to send male users fake messages. The bots essentially worked as a sales team. When men signed up for new accounts, they’d be messaged by a bot posing as an interested woman. The men would then pay a small fee to reply to the bots. As Gizmodo reported, a staggering 80 percent of initial purchases were made by a male trying to communicate with a female bot.

So how do we know the company isn’t lying this time around? We don’t! The company is privately held and therefore doesn’t have to share any of its data publicly. For now, we’ll just have to take the company’s word for it. The bigger question to people actually signing up is: Isn’t there an easier way to meet someone to cheat on your spouse with?

We’ve reached out to Ashley Madison for comment and will update as soon as we hear back.

Technology editor at Gizmodo.

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