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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