Ashley Madison is back: Adultery site claims huge increase in members despite hack

Controversial dating site for adulterers Ashley Madison claims demand for its service is high despite a 2015 data breach that exposed millions of users' personal details Reuters

Ashley Madison, the controversial dating site for cheating spouses, says it now has millions of new members, almost two years after a data breach caused many users to close their accounts.

In July 2015, hackers leaked a huge cache of personal details pertaining to adulterers that used the website, including account log-in details and seven years' worth of credit card payment transactions. The incident claimed the media's attention for weeks, leading to many users fleeing as they were afraid that they would be identified, not to mention financial troubles for the site's parent company Avid Life Media.

At the time, Ashley Madison said it had 36 million users. Today, it claims that it has now had 52.7 million sign-ups since the site was founded in 2002, which would indicate that since the breach, an additional 16.7 million people joined the dating site, despite its negative reputation and egregious privacy concerns.

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"We're back, we're excited and our opportunities are significant," Paul Keable, vice president of communications for the site's new corporate parent, Ruby Life told the New York Post. "In the summer of 2015 we experienced unprecedented media coverage of our business. Our monthly new member account additions have not been verified by a third party, but we stand behind them."

Keable refused to divulge how many people are actively using the site each month, or how many people are paying for the service. In order to start conversations with other users, members have to pay.

He also wouldn't reveal Ashley Madison's revenue, but said he would not "disavow" previous comments made by Avid Life Media's ex-president to Reuters in July 2016 that the company would achieve sales of $80m in 2016.

He did however admit that Ashley Madison had in the past used bots impersonating women because it struggled to get enough actual women to sign up, but claims that the bots are long since gone. In New York City, the site claims to have an even ratio of 1:1 signups made by men and women in the city; and in the rest of the US, signups are at a ratio of 1.4 men to every woman.

"We shut down bots in the USA and Canada in 2014 and in Australia in early 2015," said Keable. "We then had Ernst & Young come in and certify there's no remnants of the program whatsoever."

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