Uh, oh. All those millions of men looking to have affairs, I’m afraid there’s some more embarrassing and bad news. Now that the Ashley Madison hack data dump is putting names with profiles, wrecking marriages and reputations, and prompting some disgraced former pillars of the community to confess or commit suicide, the most ironic twist comes out. Most of the profiles of women on the site are pure memorex. From the Washington Post:
Ashley Madison has long claimed, in triumphant news releases and slick, Web-ready graphics, that it is one of the few dating sites that really clicks with women. According to statistics CEO Noel Biderman has trumpeted in the media, Ashley Madison enjoys an overall 70/30 gender split — with a 1:1 male/female ratio among the under-30 set.
But the user records laid bare by hackers last week tell a very different story: Of the more than 35 million records released, only 5 million — a mere 15 percent — actually belonged to women.
So, that’s 30 million men looking to cheat, with 5 million women to share between them, most of whom might well be prostitutes, if the entity responsible for the hack is to be believed. There’s a certain amount of poetic justice in that, but the reality is that Ashley Madison, just like a whole lot of other dating sites out there (except Ave Maria Singles where the men:women ratio is reversed, and the guys are looking for the Virgin Mary in a 22-year old model’s body living less than a hundred miles away), fakes women’s profiles just to lure men to spend money on the site. Ya don’t say.
Well, as it turns out, this is not news to the insiders of the dating site industry. Or anyone who has used the sites and has had a miserable experience, truth be told. What sells the service is the promise of happily ever after – or no strings attached sex in the case of Ashley Madison. However, the reality is that female user profiles, many times, are manufactured like fishing lures.
“Ashley Madison has paid people to write profiles, and they’ve allowed fake profiles to proliferate on their site,” said David Evans, an industry consultant who has contracted with Ashley Madison in the past and has tracked the business of online dating since 2002. “Tons of sites are guilty of that. That’s not news.”…
“Adult dating” and hook-up sites have a serious problem, though, [Ryan Pitcher, who spent two years running a fake-profile team for Global Personals] says: While they have no problem attracting interested guys, they absolutely bomb when it comes to women. Some of that has to do with openly misogynist marketing; some of it relates to women’s well-conditioned social and sexual roles; much of it has to do with the fact that being a rare woman on a site full of desperate, oversexed, uninhibited dudes is objectively terrible.
Whatever the exact cause, on the adult sites Pitcher worked on, real women accounted for less than 2 percent of total profiles. And so he and a 28-person team, working in Global Personals’ vaguely named “admin” department, spent their work hours crafting very sexy, very fictional profiles and messaging users from them. Profile-writers made roughly $25,000 a year, with bonuses for hitting certain monthly subscription targets.
$25,000 a year to have email and chat conversations with men who are looking for female companionship…maybe it’s time to bring back the ice cream social and bowling leagues.
At any rate, the wholesale manufacture of online profiles, for dating sites and any number of other online enterprises (think fake Twitter followers), is a big business overseas. Eastern Europe does a lot of this business paying their “translators” by the message. In the far east, young people sit in cubicles all day taking photos posted online and turning them into somebody else’s profile. Sometimes, the people made up actually sound plausible. But, the truth is that online, when it comes to human relations on dating sites, nothing is quite what it sounds like. Buyer beware and all that.
And so it is in the latest act of the tragedy that is an oversexed America, that millions of men who fell hook, line and sinker for slick and seductive marketing are now paying the price for wanting quick and easy excitement in their sex lives. All for nothing, too, as most of the profiles of women were faked. The question of whether or not it was worth it has been answered. The better query is how did so many otherwise smart men fall for the scam?