HALIFAX - Facebook apologized Tuesday for featuring an ad for a dating website that used a picture of Rehtaeh Parsons, the 17-year-old Nova Scotia girl who died after attempting suicide in April.

A spokesperson for the company, who did not want to be named, issued a statement late Tuesday that said the ad was a "gross violation" of the company's policies and has been removed.

"This is an extremely unfortunate example of an advertiser scraping an image from the Internet and using it in their ad campaign," the spokesperson said in the emailed statement.

"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."

The company said the dating website was Ionechat.com. It could not be reached for comment.

The ad featured a picture of Parsons under the heading, "Find Love in Canada! Meet Canadian girls and women for friendship, dating or relationships."

Parsons was taken off life-support following a suicide attempt, which her family says 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 at around 3:30 p.m. ET, and it was later taken down.

He 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. "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.

Parsons's death prompted the Nova Scotia government to pass the Cyber-Safety Act, which allows people to sue or seek a protection order from the courts if they or their children are being cyberbullied.

The act also paved the way for the creation of an investigative unit dedicated to pursuing and penalizing cyberbullies, which the government expects to be in operation this fall.

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    From Facebook: Thank You Richard for sending me this photo...I did not have this class picture of me in grade six but as soon as I saw it I recalled the year and the principal in the back Mr Gallagher. I was starting to become more girlish looking and developing into a young lady (far left front) and a group of boys that were friends since 1st grade noticed the changes and suddenly were grabbing me inappropriately when I was walking the hallways. I told Mr Gallagher, he pulled each boy into his office and I never knew what he said but those boys never touched me or said another word about it. Mr Gallagher, where ever you are I thank you and I never forgot how you stood up for me.

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    Today on Father's Day remembering the love of a father and daughter. (Glen and Rehtaeh)

  • These are photos of Halifax teenager <a href="http://thechronicleherald.ca/metro/1122345-who-failed-rehtaeh-parsons" target="_hplink">Rehtaeh Parsons, who was the victim of an alleged gang rape and an online bullying campaign</a> over the last few months. Her mother, Leah Parsons, posted the images and her daughter's tragic story on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Angel-Rehtaeh/352644484835299?fref=ts" target="_blank">a Facebook memorial page</a>.

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