Facebook apologized for a case of advertising gone awry in Canada, where photos of a teen girl who committed suicide in April were used in ads for a dating website.
Global News reported that pictures of Rehtaeh Parsons of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, were used in right-hand-side ads promoting ionechat.com, a since-shuttered dating site, alongside the following message:
Find love in Canada! Meet Canadian girls and women for friendship, dating or relationships. Sign up now!
The ads began surfacing Tuesday, Global News reported, and Anh Dung, an administrator for the site, told Global News in an email that the photos of Parsons were randomly chosen from Google Images, adding that this incident was the “biggest mistake” he has ever made, and saying:
I (used the photos) accidentally because I (didn’t) know about the story with the woman. I would like to deeply apologize to the girl’s family because of my mistake.
Facebook apologized, as well, telling Global News in a statement:
This is an extremely unfortunate example of an advertiser scraping an image and using it in its ad campaign. This is a gross violation of our ad policies, and we have removed the ad and permanently deleted the advertiser’s account.
The apologies may not be enough to pacify Parsons’ parents, however, as her mother, Leah Parsons, told Global News:
I’m disgusted. We’re constantly reliving the nightmare over and over again.
The late teen’s father, Glen Canning, added:
That’s just disgusting to do something like that considering the circumstances of her death, where she was bullied and tormented online over a photo. Now you have some company do it in an advertisement on Facebook. It’s inexcusable. I really am absolutely lost for words.
I don’t think this was some accident. I think this was just someone doing something … to see how many people they could all of a sudden get to their website or doing something outrageous just for hits and visitors.
It’s just one thing after another. Is there anyone else who is going to just drag her name through the mud?
Readers: Do you feel that Facebook responded appropriately to this unfortunate incident?
Screenshots courtesy of Global News. Shocked man image courtesy of Shutterstock.