Facebook apologizes after dead, bullied teen’s picture appears in dating ad

17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons died after a suicide attempt in April. Her picture was then used in an online dating ad

Topics: Rehtaeh Parsons, Rape, Bullying, Facebook, online dating, , , ,

Facebook apologizes after dead, bullied teen's picture appears in dating ad (Credit: AP/Timur Emek)

Facebook has apologized for a highly inappropriate dating ad that appeared on its site, which used a picture of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, a victim of bullying and alleged gang-rape who attempted suicide in April. The attempt left Parsons in a coma, and she died a few days later when her family took her off of life support.

A Toronto-based copywriter first discovered the ad, placed by Ionechat.com, recognizing Parsons’ face from the news:

The ad was taken down within two hours of Ennals’ tweet, but Facebook submitted an apology to the Toronto Star:

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“This is an extremely unfortunate example of an advertiser scraping an image from the Internet and using it in their ad campaign,” Facebook said in a statement emailed to the Star.

The company said it removed the ad and permanently deleted the account of Ionechat.com.

“We apologize for any harm this has caused,” the Facebook statement said.

The teen’s father told the Star that he’s speechless. “I am completely bewildered and disgusted by this,” he said. “This is my daughter, Rehtaeh. They have her in an ad for meeting singles. I don’t even know what to say.”

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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