Facebook gets backlash for using pic of cyber-bullying suicide victim in dating ad

Facebook takes image down amid criticism

Published On: Sep 19 2013 02:47:02 PM EDT

The idea of Facebook using your personal photos in advertisements other people see on their feeds is troubling to many as is-- but now the social media site is facing criticism after an ad appeared showing an image of a dead cyber-bullying victim in a dating ad.

According to Mashable, the ad features a photo of 17-year-old Retaeh Parsons, a Canadian teen who committed suicide back in April after pictures showing her alleged rape went viral.

That ad gained attention online after it was sent out in a Tweet by Andrew Ennals of Toronto earlier this week.

That ad said: "Meet Canadian girls and women for friendship, dating or relationships. Sign up now!"

Parsons' father, Glen Canning, said in a post published by the Huffington Post, "Perhaps it's not the worst ad ever but certainly it's the worst ad I will ever see. It's bad enough my daughter Rehtaeh died following months of torment and that her sexual assault was immortalized with a photograph, but to see an ad on Facebook using her image is beyond words. What a sickening thing to do!"

He went on to say, "To their credit Facebook removed the ad with un-Facebook-like speed and banned the company that posted it. My sources in Anonymous tell me the ad's registrant lives in Vietnam and ionechat.com is hosted in the United States. I also heard a spokesperson from the dating site has apologized for it as did someone at Facebook. I'm thankful for that."

That apology from a Facebook spokesperson said, "This is an extremely unfortunate example of an advertiser scraping an image from the Internet and using it in their ad campaign. This is a gross violation of our ad policies and we have removed the ad and permanently deleted the advertiser's account. We apologize for any harm this has caused."

Facebook has not yet explained how exactly the photo appeared in the ad.