Looking for the best hook-up platform for a discreet affair?
Established more than 18 years ago, Ashley Madison is the number one name in online dating for married men and women looking for an affair. Ranked in the top 30 sites in the world, their road to success hasn’t been a smooth one and the company was famously rocked in 2015 when they were hacked and the personal information of its user base was subjected to ransom demands. Despite this controversial data breach, the site continues to be one of the most successful dating sites in the world with a membership in excess of 60 million users. So, what makes this service so special and why have legions of people put the trust of their relationships in their hands?
In this review, we go beyond the headlines (bad and good) around Ashley Madison to review this unique dating platform and give you the details on just why so many customers continue to trust this site for hooking up.
What is Ashley Madison?
Also known as the Ashley Madison Dating Agency, this Canadian dating site is known for being a specialist hook-up platform for married men and women or those in long term relationships looking for an affair. Their slogan says it all…..Life is short. Have an affair.
The service was launched in 2001 and has an active worldwide membership of around 60 million people and is currently (January 2020) ranked in the top 30 sites in the ‘Romance and Relationships’ category worldwide.
The site receives traffic figures of more than 8 million visits each month.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no actual ‘Ashley Madison’. Instead, the company was established by Darren Morgenstern who paired two popular U.S. girls’ names together to produce his brand.
Ashley Madison in the Media
The Ashley Madison website has hit the headlines over recent years for some negative reasons including the ethics of operating a site that encourages married people to commit adultery.
The CEO of one of the world’s most popular dating websites, Match.com, has publicly accused Ashley Madison of building a business model that is based “on the back of broken hearts, ruined marriages and damaged families”.
Ashley Madison’s senior executives responded to the criticism by saying that their site only facilitates affairs, it does not incite anyone to commit them. Instead, it is their belief that conducting an affair actually helps preserve some marriages.
But, perhaps the most infamous media headlines around Ashley Madison were owing to a huge data breach that occurred in 2015. Victim to a cyber-attack, hackers gained access to the Ashley Madison servers and stole the personal data of more than 32 million customers. Information that was taken included email and home addresses, credit card information and, more worryingly, details of customer’s personal fetishes.
The hackers threatened to expose information of those members whose details they had stolen if the company refused to shut the site down; they also wanted fellow site EstablishedMen to be taken offline too. Perfectly serious about their demands, these cyber terrorists released a batch of data into the public arena on August 18th 2015 followed by a second wave on August 20th 2015.
The results of the leak were a huge blow to the company and the fallout for many users was devastating. Although the full impact on the relationships and personal lives of its customers may never be known, there were many reports of broken marriages following this breach.
By the end of the same year, the parent company of Ashley Madison had settled a class action law suit filed for damages at a cost of $11.2 million. Though significantly less than the $576 million claims that had originally been filed for, the effect on the company was severe.
As a consequence of the data breach of 2015, Ashley Madison has made cyber security a priority for their website going forward and, whilst no website is 100% secure, they have implemented a range of security features including:
- Two-factor verification
- PCI compliance
- Fully encrypted browsing
In 2017, the site was awarded a Privacy By Design certificate by the Ryerson University which recognizes their excellence in this field. By and large, the problems and subsequent implementation of robust solutions to data security seem to have done enough to convince customers that Ashley Madison is now a secure site.
What’s Special About Ashley Madison?
We couldn’t do a feature review of Ashley Madison without digging into the notorious scandal of 2015 but that aside, the site continues to be one of the most popular dating platforms in the world. With their security bulked up and the breach a (albeit big) blip in their history, Ashley Madison is still the hook-up site of choice for many married men and women looking for some fun on the side.
However, the site isn’t exclusively for members who are in a serious relationship. Which is one of the main draws. Ashley Madison is an inclusive and secure dating platform for people of all backgrounds, races, ages, genders and relationship status…..even sexual orientation.
What’s more, with such a huge pool of potential partners, the chances of finding a match are really high. We know from our experience of reviewing dating platforms that their success is limited to their coverage and reach. Tinder, for example, would be next to useless if only a handful of people in your area where using it.
With 60 million members worldwide, the chances of there being some local hook-ups is infinitely higher than some other platforms we’d care to mention.
But, what makes the site so special?
Intent is Guaranteed
Nobody creates a profile on Ashley Madison looking to find their next wife or husband and whilst you can’t discount the possibility of falling in love with a fuck buddy, the original intention is clear. Users on the site are looking for a discreet sexual relationship. The original intentions of the site have evolved but the foundation and brand-image remains clear; this is a judgement-free zone where affairs are well and truly on the menu.
Privacy & Control
One of the first things that sets this site aside is its independence and discretion. As you would expect from a site which facilitates extra-marital affairs, privacy and control are essential aspects of their service.
In registering an account, you don’t need to link your social media profile, just an email address and preferably one that you only use for this platform.
All photos that you upload can be edited on the platform so you can adjust them to crop out any distinguishing landmarks, features or other tell-tale clues. You can also use blurring and masking tools to make this easier.
For those users who are nervous about playing the field on a public form like this, photos can be marked private so you remain in control of who you share them with.
Fun On The Go
The unique Travel Perks feature means that you can quickly hook up with someone new from any city you visit. Choose your destination city and start planning to mix business with pleasure before you’ve even set foot outside your home.
Fast Inbox Management
Depending on your profile you could stir up a lot of interest from potential matches and this can generate an overwhelming number of messages in your inbox. Other users can send you winks, favorites and other types of interactions but with Quick Reply you can respond to, and stay on to of, these more easily.
The site works using specifically designed apps for both iOS and Android and, once you have an account, on your web browser the service does work best from a smartphone device or tablet.
The apps include a variety of stealth features which mean you can disguise the icon and any notifications on your device. You can (and should) also enable the Touch ID on startup feature.
Registering To Use Ashley Madison
In order to get a profile set up on the site you will need to set a username, password and provide an email address. In addition, the basic details you have to submit include:
- Simple greeting (under 64 characters)
- Date of Birth (kept private)
- What relationship you are looking for (something short term, long term or whatever etc.)
- Body Type
You’ll then receive an email which you will need to verify in order to set up the account. Along with this welcome email you will also be given advice on how to keep your profile secure using two-factor authentication, how to get the best results from the platform and what to do next to get matching. Remember that the platform will use the address you give them to send you regular correspondence as well as notifying you when you get messages, likes and notifications so make sure you provide them with a private one.
Once registered, you can get started by browsing the profiles of other users. The information given is limited and includes a brief ‘About Me’ statement plus tags of their interests and the same basic bio details that you’ve provided yourself. A lot of users also blur their photos so browsing thumbnails can be a bit hit and miss.
Most people only communicate with other members if they upload a photo so that really should be your first task in order to get some attention.
On a free account, you are limited to some basic ‘winking’ plus you can ‘favorite’ those profiles you like. However, to get into a conversation with someone else then you will need to request their private key and send them yours. If you get a match then you can start talking to each other but this feature comes at a price (see below).
Finding other users is made easy with a range of filters which include geo-location, attributes, profile and status.
What Does Joining Ashley Madison Cost?
The app is 100% free to download and you can create an account for free without spending a penny. The apps tailor their costs to the local currency depending on your sign-in region and monthly subscription charges for premium services start at $69.99.
You can also unlock features using credits which can be purchased in-app in bundles of 100, 500 and 1,000. These will allow you to start conversations with members whose profiles you like the look of.
Ashley Madison: We Say….
The #1 App in Affairs and NSA Hookups on the iTunes Store, Ashley Madison has proven it has what it takes to overcome the shit storm that almost took them down in 2015. They’ve done this by robustly responding to their defective security and proving to their customers that they take the issue of data privacy very seriously.
Not only that but they refused to change their business model in light of the negative press and criticism that they faced in the aftermath of this breach. With many parts of the media criticizing the platform for its perceived role as a ‘home-wrecker’ as well as the general public weighing in with their opinion, Ashley Madison maintained its ambition to provide a judgement free hook up service to its customers.
The evolution of the platform to a slick app has made this process easier and it competes well with casual encounter dating apps like Tinder but in a far more discreet way. This is at the heart of their service and as long as members conduct their interactions with caution then there are very few risks attached to using the site…..if you are so inclined. Remember, we (nor Ashley Madison) are promoting or advocating affairs but if you are going to do it anyway then this platform offers as good a way as any.
We quite like the Ashley Madison blog which you can access for free and provides a wealth of information for how to conduct your affairs for maximum discretion. Helpfully, they also provide regular statistical analysis of those cities around the world where infidelity is the highest…..could help maximize your chances of a successful match.
As for the price of using Ashley Madison; well, all dating apps come at a cost and there is no disguising that the subscription costs here are at the premium end of the market proving that a price can be put on peace of mind when it comes to privacy.
Overall, there’s not a lot to dislike about the service when you bear in mind the necessity for privacy. Yes, there are a lot of blurred thumbnails of profiles and you may need to take some wild stabs in the dark based on bio information alone before you find a match but this only adds to the mystery and thrill of this ‘illicit’ activity.
If cheating is your thing then Ashley Madison is probably one of the easiest and safest ways to go about it. Just make sure you know what you are getting into before you sign up; curiosity, as they say, killed the cat. Oh, and when you do, please, please, please make sure you sign up using an email address that’s secure.
All featured images via Ashley Madison.