Information uncovered from a lawsuit and Ashley Madison's database suggests many of the website's female accounts were fake.
The recent hack of Ashley Madison reportedly leaked the personal information of over 30 million accounts, 5.5 million of which belonged to women.
But after delving into the site's activity logs, Gizmodo's Annalee Newlitz found, of those 5.5 million accounts, just 12,000 did anything on the site besides create profiles, according to the Irish Independent.
Just 1,492 women, compared to over 20 million men, checked messages at least once, and the site's chat function was used by 2,409 women and more than 11 million men.
Additionally, Newlitz discovered 68,709 female accounts were created using the same IP address, and 9,000 female accounts were registered as employee accounts.
On Gizmodo, Newlitz wrote,
The women's accounts show so little activity that they might as well not be there... They were not created by women wanting to hook up with married men. They were static profiles full of dead data, whose sole purpose was to make men think that millions of women were active on Ashley Madison.
In 2012, a former employee of Ashley Madison's Toronto headquarters sued the website's parent company, Avid Life Media, over claims her workload resulted in a repetitive strain injury.
The Telegraph reports former employee Doriana Silva said she was hired to assist in the creation of a Portuguese version of Ashley Madison. But, her lawsuit stated her main responsibility turned out to be making 1,000 fake profiles in just three weeks.
Silva reportedly said in court documents her assignment gave the impression "that doing so was some sort of a normal business practice in the industry,” but she believed what she was doing was highly "unethical."
Avid Life Media countersued Silva and claimed her accusations were false.
Both cases were dropped earlier this year after Silva, who was seeking roughly $15 million in damages, reached an unspecified agreement with the company.
The likelihood of the fake female accounts is also increased by the fact that women, unlike men, can join Ashley Madison for free.
All users must pay to close accounts, but if Newlitz's findings are accurate, the site's revenue must rely almost entirely on men.
Citations: New report suggests 99pc of female accounts on Ashley Madison were 'fake' (Irish Independent), Ashley Madison employee 'told to create hundreds of fake profiles of alluring women' (The Telegraph)