Ashley Madison

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Ashley Madison
Ashley Madison logo.jpg
Web address
Slogan Life is short. Have an affair.
Commercial? Yes
Type of site
Online dating service
Social network service
Registration Yes
Available in Chinese (simplified, traditional and Singaporean), Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazilian and European), Spanish (European and Latin American), Swedish
Users More than 37 million (as of July 2015)[1]
Owner Avid Life Media
Launched 2001[2]
Alexa rank
1,102 (July 2015)[3]
Current status Active

Ashley Madison is a Canadian-based online dating service and social networking service marketed to people who are married or in a committed relationship. Its slogan is "Life is short. Have an affair."[4] The website was launched in 2001.[2][5] The name of the site was created from two popular female names, "Ashley" and "Madison".[4]

According to third-party web analytics provider SimilarWeb, the site has more than 124 million visits per month, as of 2015,[6] and is ranked No. 18 among Adult sites.[7]

The company received significant attention on July 15, 2015, after hackers stole all of its customer data—including names, addresses, sexual fantasies and credit card information—and threatened to post all the data online if Ashley Madison and fellow site Avid Life Media site were not permanently closed. By July 22, the first names of customers were released by hackers.[8]


Ashley Madison is a membership website and service based in Canada; its membership includes 37 million people in 46 countries.[8][9]

Location Countries
North America Canada, USA,[10] Mexico[11]
Europe United Kingdom,[10] Ireland,[12] Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Sweden, Finland, Norway[10]
Oceania Australia,[13] New Zealand[10]
Africa South Africa[14]
Asia Hong Kong,[1] Israel, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, India[citation needed]

The company announced plans to launch in Singapore in 2014.[1] However, Singapore's Media Development Authority (MDA) announced that it will not allow Ashley Madison to operate in Singapore as "it promotes adultery and disregards family values".[15]

In response to the ban in Singapore, CEO Noel Biderman told online tech publication e27 that he thinks prohibitions will always backfire. He said, "It’s not too conservative, it’s not too challenging. I think this is an anomaly. We have had success in Japan and Hong Kong. We will have success in Taiwan and Korea. We will find a way to bring this to the Philippines and Thailand. And ultimately, I genuinely believe Ashley Madison will be available to anyone in Singapore who wants to access it. I really believe that."[16]


Ashley Madison advertises with TV commercials, billboards, and radio ads by the CEO, Noel Biderman.[4]

In 2009, NBC refused an ad submitted by Ashley Madison for the network's broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII.[17] Biderman described the refusal as ridiculous, saying the National Football League's demographic was a core audience for the site, promising to find some way to publicize it.[17]

In December 2009, Ashley Madison attempted to purchase C$200,000 worth of advertising on Toronto Transit Commission streetcars.[18] The plan was rejected after five of the six committee members voted against it. If approved, 10 streetcars would have been skinned with Ashley Madison's slogan: "Life is short. Have an affair."[18] The TTC commissioner showed displeasure with the ads, stating: "When it's a core fundamental value around cheating or lying, we’re not going to let those kinds of ads go on."[19] After the deal was rejected, Biderman offered to subsidize ticket prices by 25 cents if the deal went through. This would have reduced the ticket rate to C$2.50.[18] The offer was declined.

Bids for sports sponsorships

On February 22, 2010, the company approached the city of Phoenix, Arizona with an offer of $10 million to rename the Sky Harbor Airport to Ashley Madison International Airport for a five-year period, noting the city was in financial trouble. Phoenix rejected the offer.[20][21]

In 2010, Ashley Madison made an offer for the naming rights to the New Meadowlands Stadium.[22] The offer was ignored, with Met Life eventually purchasing the naming rights.

In October 2011, Ashley Madison offered the Italian basketball club Virtus Roma a jersey sponsorship deal worth €1.5 million, much of which would supposedly be spent on returning locked-out NBA player Andrea Bargnani to his homeland. Msgr. Flavio Capucci, a Roman Catholic priest, called the proposal "a betrayal of the value and identity of sport." The player himself denied any role in the deal.[23][24]


Ashley Madison offers a guarantee that you will "find someone": "we GUARANTEE that you will successfully find what you’re looking for or we'll give you your money back."[25] However, the guarantee is so restricted by conditions—one must buy the most expensive package, send "priority" messages (which are more expensive) to 18 unique members each month for three months, send 5 Ashley Madison gifts per month, and engage in 60 minutes of (paid) chat per month[26]—that it is very difficult to qualify for.

Imbalance between male and female users

70% of Ashley Madison's users are male.[27] "More men than women use the service, with the disparity increasing as they advance in age", and "Men seek sex, while women seek passion."[28] This is not revealed to prospective users. Furthermore, Ashley Madison routinely uses computer-generated female "profiles" to make it seem that more women participate than really do.[27] It is obvious from a page on the Ashley Madison site itself that many men feel "ripped off."[25]


Trish McDermott, a consultant who helped found, accused Ashley Madison of being a "business built on the back of broken hearts, ruined marriages, and damaged families." Biderman responded by stating that the site is "just a platform" and a website or a commercial will not convince anyone to commit adultery.[4][29] According to Biderman, affairs help preserve many marriages.[16]


In 2012, the company was sued by former employee Doriana Silva, who stated that in preparation for the launch of the company's Portuguese-language website, she was assigned to create over a thousand bogus member profiles within a three-week period in order to attract paying customers, and that this caused her to develop repetitive stress injury. The lawsuit claimed that as a result Silva "developed severe pain in her wrists and forearms", and has been unable to work since 2011.[30] Ashley Madison countersued, alleging fraud. The company claimed that Silva had been photographed skiing, an activity that was unlikely for someone who had suffered serious injury to the hands and forearms.[31] Ashley Madison later alleged further that Silva had kept confidential documents and sought to retrieve them. In 2015, the Ontario Superior Court dismissed the case without costs, a result that Avi Weisman, vice-president and general counsel for Ashley Madison’s parent company Avid Life Media, said the company was "very pleased" with.[32]

Business model

Unlike or eHarmony, Ashley Madison's business model is based on credits rather than monthly subscriptions. For a conversation between two members, one of the members—almost always the man—must pay five credits to initiate the conversation. Any follow-up messages between the two members are free after the communication has been initiated. Ashley Madison also has a real-time chat feature that is metered. Credits are utilised to pay for a certain time allotment of chat. Women can send messages to men for free, but the men must pay to read them. Men must always pay to send messages to women.[33] Since Ashley Madison does not accommodate same-sex couples, the topic of male-male and female-female messages does not come up.

Unless they know how to opt out of the "Ashley's Angels" feature, the site's Terms and Conditions say that users who have not yet paid the site any money ("Guest" accounts) may get computer-generated messages from fictitious profiles that "are NOT conspicuously identified as such." These may cost money to respond to. The site says this feature is "to provide entertainment."[34]

The site also charges money to delete accounts, although they may be hidden for free.[34] The paid deletion includes removing messages sent from the mailboxes of their recipients.

Data breach

On July 15, 2015,[35] the site was hacked by a group known as 'The Impact Team'. The hackers claimed to have stolen personal information about the site's user base, and threatened to release many users' names and other personal information if the site was not immediately shut down. Because of the site's policy of not deleting users' personal information including real names, addresses, search history and credit card details, many users feared being publicly shamed.[36]

On July 20, 2015, the website put up three statements under its "Media" section addressing the breach. One statement read: "At this time, we have been able to secure our sites, and close the unauthorized access points. We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating this criminal act. Any and all parties responsible for this act of cyber–terrorism will be held responsible. Using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), our team has now successfully removed the posts related to this incident as well as all Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about our users published online."[37] The site also offered to waive the account deletion charge.

On July 21, it was reported that hackers claimed to have released 2,500 customer records, although Ashley Madison spokespeople denied this, and stated only two names were released.[9]

On July 26, it was announced that Reddit users had responded to the breach by posting false lists of names in order to dilute the potential damage, and protect their client base.[38]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Woo, Jacqueline (October 23, 2013). "Business of ruining marriages". My Paper. Retrieved 2013-10-24. The dating website that facilitates extramarital affairs between married individuals plans for a launch in Singapore next year, My Paper understands. The Canada-based website has over 21 million users worldwide. Its slogan: "Life is short. Have an affair." Ashley Madison has already expanded to other Asian countries and territories such as Japan, and, more recently, Hong Kong in August. 
  2. ^ a b Pearson, Patricia. "The Two-Timers Club". Toronto Life. Archived from the original on 21 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  3. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d Daum, Meghan (2001-01-10). "Ashley Madison's secret success". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 15 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  5. ^ "When Cheating On Your Spouse Is Business". ABC News. Archived from the original on 9 November 2004. Retrieved 2004-10-21. 
  6. ^ " Analytics". SimilarWeb. Retrieved 12 July 2015. 
  7. ^ "Top 50 sites in the world for Adult". SimilarWeb. Retrieved 12 July 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Hackers expose first Ashley Madison users". CBS News. July 22, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Alex Hern. "Ashley Madison customer service in meltdown as site battles hack fallout". The Guardian. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Ashley Madison". Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  11. ^ "Mexican presidential candidate becomes poster boy for infidelity". NBC News. Reuters. June 6, 2012. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  12. ^ "I got married three months ago. Then last month, I logged on to an infidelity website". The Irish Independent. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  13. ^ Robinson, Georgina (2010-04-13). "Ashley Madison site launches in Australia". Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  14. ^ "There is no typical SA cheater". Times LIVE. 2012-08-04. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  15. ^ "MDA will block access to Ashley Madison website". Channel NewsAsia. November 8, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Huang, Elaine (November 25, 2013). "11 titillating minutes with Ashley Madison renders me impressed". e27. Retrieved 2014-02-04. It’s not too conservative, it’s not too challenging. I think this is an anomaly. We have had success in Japan and Hong Kong. We will have success in Taiwan and Korea. We will find a way to bring this to the Philippines and Thailand. And ultimately, I genuinely believe Ashley Madison will be available to anyone in Singapore who wants to access it. I really believe that. 
  17. ^ a b Hill, Catey (2009-01-29). "Banned! These ads are too racy for the Super Bowl". The New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  18. ^ a b c Peat, Don (2009-12-11). "TTC dumps Ashley Madison". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  19. ^ Edwards, Jim (2009-12-16). "No Streetcars Named Desire: Toronto Bans Adultery Ads on Public Transit". Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  20. ^ Wong, Scott (2010-02-22). "Phoenix rejects $10M offer from infidelity Web site". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  21. ^ Fisher, Katie (2010-02-23). "Risque website offers $10 million for Sky Harbor name change". ABC15. Archived from the original on 25 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  22. ^ "NFL Stadium Offered $25M to Promote Adultery". 2010-05-30. Archived from the original on 11 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  23. ^ "Andrea Bargnani: Don't Believe the Hype About Virtus Roma, Ashley Madison, and Me". 2011-11-20. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  24. ^ "Vatican and Opus Dei hostile to AshleyMadison as Virtus Roma sponsor". 2011-11-20. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  25. ^ a b "Is Ashley Madison a scam? Is Ashley Madison a fraud?". Retrieved 17 August 2014. 
  26. ^ "Ashley Madison®". 
  27. ^ a b Van Badham (July 21, 2015). "It hurts, but I’m going to defend Ashley Madison and 33 million adulterers". The Guardian. Retrieved July 20, 2015. 
  28. ^ Niv Elis (May 22, 2014). "Cheating on your spouse in Israel just got easier". The Jerusalem Post. 
  29. ^ Caplan, Jeremy (2008-06-28). "Cheating 2.0: New Mobile Apps Make Adultery Easier". Time. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  30. ^ Paola Loriggio (November 10, 2013). "Woman hurt typing fake profiles for dating site, $20M suit alleges". CityNews. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  31. ^ Jim Edwards (November 11, 2013). "Ashley Madison Says Woman Who Alleges She Hurt Her Wrists Writing Fake Profiles Later Rode A Jet Ski". Business Insider. Retrieved April 13, 2015. 
  32. ^ Lawsuit against dating site for married people seeking affairs dismissed, at The Globe And Mail; published 18 Jan 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015
  33. ^ "What is a Collect message". Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  34. ^ a b "Ashley Madison Terms _Conditions". Ashley Madison. 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2013-11-09. 
  35. ^ "Online Cheating Site AshleyMadison Hacked". 2015-07-15. Retrieved 2015-07-20. 
  36. ^ Thomsen,Simon (20 Jul 2015). "Extramarital affair website Ashley Madison has been hacked and attackers are threatening to leak data online". Business Insider. Retrieved 21 Jul 2015. 
  37. ^ "STATEMENT FROM AVID LIFE MEDIA, INC.". Ashley Madison. 20 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  38. ^ Neil, Davids. "Lessons Learned From Ashley Madison Leak". Reputation Station. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 

External links