Ashley Madison's membership has steadily grown despite a major hacking scandal. It now boasts of 43.4 million users, up from 39 million when the breach occurred.
The adultery website's continued popularity backs an assertion by its parent company, Avid Life Media, that "reports predicting the imminent demise of Ashley Madison are greatly exaggerated." The reference was to several reports that questioned its financial viability after the company was hit by several lawsuits related to the hacking.
The breach resulted in millions of confidential user account data being leaked, including names, email addresses, home addresses, and personal messages, causing embarrassment to many. Some members reported receiving blackmail letters threatening to reveal their use of the adultery website to their family and friends unless they paid money.
Email addresses in the leaked data suggests Ashley Madison had 1.2 million members from UK alone. Among the details were scientists from a top defence laboratory and female MPs. Members also include 24 civil servants, 92 Ministry of Defence staff, about 50 police officers, 56 NHS workers, 65 local education and school staffs, and 1,716 people at universities and colleges, reported the Telegraph.
Avid Life's last statement on 31 August also reported thousands of new users including 87,596 women. The company used that statistic to dismiss reports that say a majority of its members are male, and accusations that it deliberately posted fake profiles of women. In 2013, an employee from Ashley Madison's headquarters in Toronto had claimed she was ordered to create 1,000 fake female profiles.
Ashley Madison has sought to dispel such perceptions: "Last week alone, women sent more than 2.8 million messages within our platform. Furthermore, in the first half of this year the ratio of male members who paid to communicate with women on our service versus the number of female members who actively used their account (female members are not required to pay to communicate with men on Ashley Madison) was 1.2 to 1. These numbers are the main reason that Ashley Madison is the number one service for people seeking discreet relationships."
Ashley Madison has users in more than 50 countries. Its app ranks 14th among "highest-gossiping" ones in Apple's app store in the US.