HALIFAX – The father of Rehtaeh Parsons says it was disturbing for family members to see a picture of his daughter in an ad for an online dating website posted on Facebook.
Glen Canning says the ad featuring a photo of his 17-year-old girl belongs to the family and should not have been used for the ad.
“For something like that to happen to Rehtaeh, given the circumstances of her death and the grief we’ve gone through, it was pretty disturbing and disgusting to see something like that,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday.
“It’s our image. It belongs to Rehtaeh’s family. Just to lift it off and start using it like that is very thoughtless.”
The ad featured a picture of Parsons under the heading, “Find Love in Canada! Meet Canadian girls and women for friendship, dating or relationships.”
Facebook apologized Tuesday, saying the ad was a “gross violation” of the company’s policies and has been removed.
Facebook said the dating website, which it said was Ionechat.com, has been banned from advertising on its website. Ionechat.com could not be reached for comment.
Canning said he was pleased to see Facebook take the measures it did.
“I think banning the Ionechat.com company was the right move to make,” he said. “It’s hard to say what can be done but I think Facebook removed it fast, and I appreciate that and they apologized for it which is good.”
Parsons died after she was taken off life-support following a suicide attempt in April. Her family says her death was brought on by months of bullying following an alleged sexual assault.
Andrew Ennals, a copy writer in Toronto, said he alerted Facebook to the ad when he spotted it on his Facebook page. Ennals said he noticed the ad on the page’s right-hand column and was stunned to see the picture of Parsons, which had been used widely in the media after her death.
“I don’t normally notice those (ads), but I thought the picture looked really familiar,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
“So I just did some quick screen grabs — I was just completely stunned that this could actually happen.”
Ennals tweeted the screen grabs and contacted Facebook.
“I couldn’t believe this was being done to promote anything,” he said.