Facebook bans company that used dead rape victim in dating ad

The above image of Rehtaeh Parsons, a rape victim who committed suicide, was used in an ad on Facebook.

Facebook issued an apology Wednesday after discovering a dating company used images of a girl who committed suicide after allegedly being raped, also banning the offending company.

The advertisements featured photos of Rehtaeh Parsons, a Canadian teen who killed herself in April after an image of her rape circulated online, and quickly drew backlash from the teen's parents, among others. Rehtaeh's death became an international news story after police took no immediate legal action against her alleged rapists and cyber bullies despite the photo allegedly showing four boys raping her.

Facebook stated the company that placed the ad, which ran under the headline "Find Love in Canada," has been banned from advertising on the social network. The website the ad linked to, ionechat.com, is no longer online.

"This is an extremely unfortunate example of an advertiser scraping an image from the internet and using it in their ad campaign," a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. "This is a gross violation of our ad policies and we have removed the ad and permanently deleted the advertiser's account."

Glen Canning, Rehtaeh's father, wrote a blog post titled "Possibly the worst Facebook ad ever" about the matter, saying he was "bewildered and disgusted" that the company used his daughter's image.

"This is my daughter, Rehtaeh," he wrote. "They have her in an ad for meeting singles. I don't even know what to say."

Canning's blog has since been unreachable, likely because of the interest in his opinion of the advertisement. Since he posted the entry, another image of his daughter has been discovered in an ad for ionechat.com, using the same text as the ad Canning saw.

In August, Canadian police charged two of Rehtaeh's alleged rapists with distribution of child pornography for spreading the photo that was used to bully the teen. The photo was taken in 2011, when Rehtaeh was 15.

Source: Glen Canning via BBC | Image via Glen Canning

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"This is my daughter, Rehtaeh," he wrote. "They have her in an ad for meeting singles. I don't even know what to say."

I would say pay me for illegally using my daughter face without our permission.

Have to say the victim's family is going through a lot of hell after their daughter's death. People were posting threats to her father's YouTube channel (why?!). And then this comes up.

The optimist in me says that, as pointed out above, someone must've found her page reposted somewhere outside Facebook and ran with the photo. Either way, very very bad optics on this company's part.

Depending on where the image was taken from it could have been acquired completely fairly and how could they know she had been raped and was dead??

Perhaps the dating site had a client using her picture, every social site has fake people using others pictures, it's actually a pandemic really, just look at tagged for example.

Why not just use a stock photo, or ask someone to pose for a photo. Maybe even run a competition to find a face for their adverts?

If you just use some random photo of someone, especially on Facebook, then surely someone is bound to find out about it, and take action for use without permission.

She's pretty, I don't blame them for banning the company one bit. It's disrespectful to her family and her. Dating sites anymore will do literally ANYTHING, just to make a quick buck no matter the repercussions in which will eventually come back and bite them.

The sad thing is this company will just return under a different name with a new ad account. I doubt they will learn from this; some advertisers have no morals, respect or decency and operate illegally. Next time it will be a photo of some other victim or another controversial photo if they are wise enough to not re-use the same photo. The fact their website is down may indicate they are changing their name and return with a new account.

you know, why don't these companies use well you know THEIR OWN CLIENTS in their ad's... not just random people they pick as "hot"

neufuse said,
you know, why don't these companies use well you know THEIR OWN CLIENTS in their ad's... not just random people they pick as "hot"

So those companies are OK to work, while they don't use the photo of suicides.

There was probably no malice involved. Unfortunately too many companies cut corners and simply scrape images from internet searches without any concern for copyright or decency. Banning the company was the right move, as this sort of behaviour can't be tolerated.

Dushmany said,
Just out of curiosity, I wonder if there's a case for compensation here for the Family...

Since the article says the website is offline, probably not.

You can't get blood from a stone etc.
I'd say it's horribly inconsiderate but in all likelihood they just trawled Google Images and decided "she looks pretty hot and attainable, use it"

Pretty sad that these sites are using random images from Google though, use images from your subscribers (with permission.)