COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Christian Examiner) -- Amidst the broken marriages that the Ashley Madison hacking scandal brought to thousands of families in August, one eye-opening stat went underreported: Out of a 37 million member database, the site may have included only thousands, not millions, of active female users.
The company essentially created an army of "fembots" – fake females – to lure men to the site and to keep them there once they paid the up-front fee.
Ashley Madison's army of fembots appears to have been a sophisticated, deliberate, and lucrative fraud. The code tells the story of a company trying to weave the illusion that women on the site are plentiful and eager. Whatever the total number of real, active female Ashley Madison users is, the company was clearly on a desperate quest to design legions of fake women to interact with the men on the site.
It is not known for sure how many women were active on the site.
Gizmodo's Annalee Newitz initially reported that there were only 12,000 active women, but after Ashley Madison pushed back and asserted she had interpreted the data wrong, Newitz acknowledged that the number may have been lower and that she had misunderstood the raw data.
Newitz, though, has stuck by her initial premise: Ashley Madison was forced to create fake female accounts because there were not enough real women in the system. Her latest analysis shows 70,000 "fembots" – fake females who potentially could send messages to millions of men.
"Ashley Madison's software developers trained their bots to talk almost exclusively to men," Newitz wrote.
For example, Newitz found 20,269,675 instances where a "bot" sent a message to a male, but only 1,492 where a bot sent a message to a woman.
"Ashley Madison's army of fembots appears to have been a sophisticated, deliberate, and lucrative fraud," Newitz wrote in her newest analysis. "The code tells the story of a company trying to weave the illusion that women on the site are plentiful and eager. Whatever the total number of real, active female Ashley Madison users is, the company was clearly on a desperate quest to design legions of fake women to interact with the men on the site."
In other words, the men were chasing a mere fantasy that did not exist. The discrepancy is not surprising, said Focus on the Family's Glenn T. Stanton, who serves as director of Global Family Formation Studies at the Colorado Springs organization.
"This is not surprising in the least. Regardless of what gender theorists would like to believe, there is indeed a fundamental male and female nature and it is humanly universal," Stanton told the Christian Examiner. "One of these differences is that women are just not that into affairs and infidelity. Men are dramatically more likely. Hence, Ashley Madison's customer need to 'create' female customers."
Anthropologists have examined extensively the differences in the way men and women view sex, he added.
"One study, done across 52 nations, six continents and 13 island nations involving more than 100 cooperating scholars revealed that one sex was four times more likely than the other to say they 'certainly would' be willing to engage in casual sex with someone they just met. Care to guess which sex that was? Duh. So men, there are not scores of women out there eager to cheat with you. It's just an illusion Ashley Madison found itself forced to create."
The shortage of real female users on the Ashley Madison site also was evident in foreign countries, Newitz wrote.
"We know from company emails that management constantly struggled to find people to create fake accounts in languages other than English," she wrote. "Bots needed to speak 31 different languages, and they chatted and sent messages to people in roughly 50 countries and 1,500 states or provinces."