Ashley Madison’s owner Avid Live Media has admitted that it previously used automated ‘fembots’ impersonating real women to encourage male users to sign up.
The adultery-facilitating website, which fell victim to a colossal hack last year, is currently being investigated the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US.
An Ernst & Young report commissioned by Avid and shared with Reuters confirmed that the company had indeed used bots intended to trick men seeking affairs. It shut down the practice in the US, Canada and Austalia in 2014 and in the rest of the world one year later.
The website, which has a tagline ‘Life is short. Have an affair’, was hacked by a group calling itself the ‘Impact Team’ in August of last year, leaving the details of its 37 million users circulating online.
When asked about the fake profiles the site’s chief executive Rob Segal told Reuters: "That's a part of the ongoing process that we're going through... it's with the FTC right now."
While executives at the firm are aware of the FTC’s investigation, neither Segal or president James Millership said they know what the precise focus of the probe is.
The FTC’s consumer protection unit looks into misleading advertising, including situations in which consumer information has been leaked.
Segal said the company was “profoundly sorry” for the data breach, adding that more money could have been invested into security.