Taiwanese female users of Ashley Madison surge by 600% after adultery ruling

More Taiwanese women than men use Ashley Madison, Hsinchu City has most members

Taiwan version of the website. (Ashley Madison website screenshot)

Taiwan version of the website. (Ashley Madison website screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — New accounts by Taiwanese women on Ashley Madison, a site marketed for those seeking affairs, swelled by 600 percent less than two weeks after adultery was decriminalized in Taiwan last month.

On May 29, Taiwan's grand justices ruled that Article 239 of the Criminal Code violates the constitution and should be ended immediately, effectively decriminalizing adultery. In less than three weeks, new registrations on Ashley Madison, an online dating site marketed at people married or in a relationship, skyrocketed by 600 percent among women and 70 percent overall in Taiwan.

Ashley Madison chief strategist Paul Keable told Taiwan News that the previous law deeming adultery as a crime was "viewed as a tool to oppress desire, mainly against women, who, historically, have been told to refrain from being overtly sexual." Now that adultery has been decriminalized, he said that the company "was not surprised to see strong interest from women," as women have outnumbered men on the website for the past three years.

Keable said that modern marriage comes with many complex challenges and many couples realize that there are many "inherent flaws" in monogamy that come to light. He claimed that based on anecdotal evidence, the service has "preserved the longevity of many marriages" by offering an alternative pathway of having one's needs met while sustaining the marriage.

Prior to the court ruling, a total of 1.9 million Taiwanese citizens had already signed up for the service, according to Keable. Since the court made its decision, Keable said that the daily average of new female accounts in Taiwan has skyrocketed by 600 percent.

Keable pointed out that this was not so surprising given that the ratio of active paid male accounts to active female accounts in 2017 was 1:1.67, based on analysis of data overseen by accounting firm Ernst & Young. The pattern continued over the next two years with the male to female ratio in 2018 being 1:2.07 and 1:1.3 in 2019.

The company anticipates a similar majority-female number in the next membership report as the previous law was detrimental to females, "who have historically been conditioned to repress their sexual desires." Keable predicted that now that the law has been struck down, the website anticipates more women will "feel empowered to express themselves and prioritize their needs."

As for the location with the most signups, Keable said that since the ruling Hsinchu City has seen the largest number of new members. Between May 29 and June 14, Hsinchu City's North District, which he claimed has the highest income level in Taiwan, saw the most signups for the platform in the country.

In addition to married people and "attached" individuals seeking an affair, Keable said that members also include couples in an open relationship, divorcé(e)s who are not quite ready for a traditional relationship, and single people who are not interested in monogamy.

Keable said that they do not have exact figures on attached people versus unattached as they seek to limit the statistics they capture about members. Keable says the company has a policy of limiting its "digital lipstick," the amount of digital evidence (text messages, emails, etc.) in order to ensure discretion.

In 2015, a group of hackers leaked over 60 gigabytes of data from the website, including user details. Internet vigilantes plotted to use the data to publicly humiliate famous individuals, while extortionists attempted to scam individuals whose data was revealed.

When asked to respond to security concerns, Keable stated the company has invested millions of dollars in rebuilding its security functions. He said that he cannot discuss many of the changes to prevent "bad actors" from gaining insight into their new security protocols, but some features are evident to members, such as two-factor verification.