Facebook apologizes, bans advertiser who used photo of dead teenager

Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:56pm EDT
 
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it has banned an advertiser that used photographs of a deceased Canadian bullying victim in an ad for an online dating website.

A Facebook user noticed the ad, which featured a photo of Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old Halifax girl who died after a suicide attempt that followed months of cyber bullying and an alleged sexual assault.

The user posted screen grabs of the ad to Twitter, provoking immediate outrage and a quick response from Facebook.

"This is an extremely unfortunate example of an advertiser scraping an image from the Internet and using it in their ad campaign," a spokeswoman for Facebook said in an email.

She said the ad was removed as soon as it came to their attention, and the advertiser's account was permanently deleted.

"This is a gross violation of our ad policies," the spokeswoman said. "We apologize for any harm this has caused."

The ad was for the online dating site ionechat.com, which placed the photo of Parsons next to text that read "Meet Canadian girls and women for friendship, dating or relationships. Signup now!"

Parsons' father, Glen Canning, condemned the ad.   Continued...