After making headlines due to a hacking scandal in 2015, online dating website Ashley Madison has attracted the attention of a lot of new people. In many cases, those who hear about the site are unsure of what it is and how it works. People largely do not understand how a dating site dedicate to dating outside of an established relationship has lasted so long and how it has remained so successful.
Whether you’re interested in learning more about the site for your own personal usage or are simply curious about it, here’s an explanation of how Ashley Madison works.
What Is Ashley Madison?
First things first, it is best to know exactly what goes on at Ashley Madison. The basic understanding of the site is that it is a website for affairs. This is largely true; its main purpose is to provide a dating and social community for users who are in a relationship but want to date someone else at the same time. It also offers discretion to those who have such interests and provides a safe environment for them. While the site is primarily used for users to have sexual extramarital affairs, there those who have affairs through the site that do not include any actual sex. However, such cases are in the minority.
The site does offer a guarantee that users will be able to use the site to have an affair. They also state that all Ashley Madison users are interested in having an affair in the first place, although users and employees, past and present alike, do note that this only applies to active users. It does not apply to users who no longer use their accounts or those who had accounts made without their consent, e.g. pranks and incorrect email addresses. The guarantee also applies more to those who have third tier membership and meet certain requirements—a certain amount of messages and certain types of message options sent or received per month.
It should be noted that the site’s users are mostly male; an estimated 30-40% of active user profiles are marked as female. Information released for female users in the 2015 hack of Ashley Madison also showed that there were around 70,000 bot or fake accounts on the site. Ashley Madison’s parent company has worked to remove those bot accounts and make it harder for more to be created. There have also significant upgrades and modifications made for the site’s security to prevent future hacks as well.
How Does Ashley Madison Work?
It uses a similar setup as other dating websites—users create an account, build a profile, and communicate with other users. Signing up is free and users can include whatever they want on their profile. Registering simply requires filling out the requested information and providing a valid email. Ashley Madison will then send a confirmation email to that address for the user to follow to complete the process. Once they log in after that, users are considered members and have access to the site.
Users primarily use an instant messaging and emailing features on the site to interact with each other. There are also options of sending a virtual gift—which varies in selection—and photos. Most of the communication features require male users to be the ones to initiate, but female users can still connect with users who haven’t contacted them yet through the “collect messages” feature. There are features such as the “private showcase keys” which allow a user to share photos and information that are marked as private with specific users of their choice. Keys can also be revoked and there is also a blocking feature available.
Does It Cost Anything To Use Ashley Madison?
There is a cost for using Ashley Madison, which is a standard practice for all dating sites regardless of audience. Joining and maintaining a profile are free, as are replies to full members and searching for other users. Other free options for users include sending and receiving photos through the site and adding members to their favorites list. Everything else, including all other forms of communication through the site, requires a fee. Most dating sites use a subscription service, with a flat fee per month that often is automatically charged to the user’s account. Ashley Madison uses a credit system instead, with three tiers of membership and credit amount available for purchase. The first tier is the Introductory Membership at $55 for 100 credits, the second tier Elite Membership at $154 for 500 credits, and the third tier Affair Guarantee Membership at $253 for 1000 credits. All users, regardless of membership status, are able to purchase credits as they need them by logging in and clicking on a button that simply reads “Buy Credits.”
Should a user choose to delete their account, there is a “full delete” option where all of their data—profile, messages, etc.—can be removed. This feature costs $19 and needs to be paid before the deletion is executed. It cannot be done with credits, but the site does offer several payment options for the feature and for purchasing credits. This information is only accessible to users and can be found in the settings for their account.
Obviously, before joining a site such as Ashley Madison, you should consider the negatives of having a sexual relationship with someone who is married or in a long-term relationship. As an alternative, you may want to consider joining regular dating website such Match, which caters mostly for singles – Match.com Homepage