A Dating Site's Facebook Ad Used A Photo Of A 17-Year-Old Girl Who Hanged Herself

Rehtaeh ParsonsAngel Rehtaeh/FacebookRehtaeh Parsons’ family posted this photo of her on a memorial Facebook page.

Facebook banned a dating website from advertising on its site after it posted an ad featuring a photo of Rehtaeh Parsons,
a 17-year-old Canadian who hanged herselfafter photos of her alleged rape were posted online,
CBC News reports.

The offensive ad for ionechat.com was found by a man named Rob Russell, who saw it on his newsfeed, according to CBC News. The ad invited Facebook users to meet Canadian girls and women beside a photo of the deceased Parsons.

The controversy is sure to reignite ongoing debate between Facebook and privacy advocates over how advertisers should be allowed to display user data alongside Facebook ads.

The Guardian reported that Parsons no longer has a Facebook page, but the photo used in the advertisement is the profile picture of the “R.I.P Rehtaeh Parsons” Facebook page.

“This is an extremely unfortunate example of an advertiser scraping an image from the Internet and using it in their ad campaign,” a Facebook spokesperson 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. We apologise for any harm this has caused.”

Parsons committed suicide in April after being bullied by classmates for a year and a half after they used social media to spread photos of her alleged gang rape. The incident was one of several to receive attention this past year in Canada and the United States for showing how social media can be used to exacerbate the pain of sexual assault.

The offending website, ionechat.com, is currently down.

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