Ashley Madison is charging users $20 to perform a full delete of their account, including all messages and photos they send.
Ars Technica was contacted by a man with an Ashley Madison account, who decided to delete it when he got a long term girlfriend.
When he came to delete, he was presented with an option to perform a Full Delete which carried a $19 charge.
In fact, users of the affairs site have three main options: first, to deactivate their profile temporarily, which hides their profile, but keeps the details should they want to return.
But when users choose to completely delete their account, they are given two options – a Full Delete, or a Hide My Profile option.
Ars spoke to Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman, who said that the Hide My Profile option is the same as what most sites call a full delete – permanently removing all your details from the site.
However Biderman said this wouldn’t remove your messages, as they act like email.
This is also true of a profile delete on sites such as Facebook and OkCupid.
The $19 Full Delete option however will wipe every message, photo and interaction you’ve had on the site – including removing messages from a recipient’s inbox.
Biderman explained: “We’ve developed a product where we’ll go back in time and remove photos and conversations that you’ve had. We feel it’s more than fair to charge a nominal fee to take that away.”
A spokesperson for Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison’s parent company, said that around 8,000 to 10,000 users pay for the $19 feature every month.
This means Ashley Madison makes approximately $152,000 to $342,000 a month from the service.
And while the option offers a full removal of all traces of your activity on the site, the issue is around the language presented with the two options.
The Full Delete option is billed as the only way to completely wipe your profile from the site, without explaining that Hide My Profile is similar to the permanent delete on most sites.
However Biderman replied saying: “16,000 people a month are totally ecstatic with it, and people don’t understand that. This isn’t a charity, we have to charge for that, and that’s our prerogative.”
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