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Monday, August 24, 2015

Mapping the Ashley Madison Data

Two data dumps listing users of the online site Ashley Madison appeared last week. Should the data be mapped? It was.

Fairfax Media's Interactive Map
Here are the maps I found in a quick search:
  • The most cited map seems to be from Spanish digital agency, Tecnilógica. To its credit, the creators stripped out identifying information and omitted places with fewer than 10 users. The map offers two themes: gender ratio and number of users in each city. Tecnilógica spent about eight hours putting it together and it's gone viral. The New Zealand Herald notes the CartoDB-based map uses IP addresses for geolocation.
  • Fairfax Media, which publishes the Sydney Morning Herald, used different geolocation data. It uses the locations that users entered when signing up to Ashley Madison, but like Tecnilógica doesn't include personal details. Fairfax Media's map uses Leaflet and OSM.
  • The paper also cites maps from Luke Metcalfe, who works at Australian online property search engine NationMaster. He's a Google Maps user who offers raw data by Australian state and maps of the most active suburbs on the site. 
  • Alexis Madrigal makes maps and charts for Fusion and explains how he and colleagues massaged the data. 
And, since all data and new are local, lots of media outlets have turned to these maps to analyze the situation locally. KATU, in Portland, OR offers up its analysis:
Locally, it [Tecnilógica map] shows more than 10,000 users in Beaverton, about 23,000 in Salem, and nearly 16,000 in Vancouver.
These organizations felt accessing and mapping the data was relevant to their businesses. In contrast, USA Today suggests downloading and rummaging through the data is not a good idea for most people. and CNN Money acknowledges the data and search sites built around it, but chooses not to link to them:
CNNMoney is not linking to these sites directly, but they can be found via regular Web searches -- if you know exactly what to look for.