Perhaps it's not the worst ad ever but certainly it's the worst ad I will ever see. It's bad enough my daughter Rehtaeh died following months of torment and that her sexual assault was immortalized with a photograph, but to see an ad on Facebook using her image is beyond words. What a sickening thing to do!
Yesterday it came to my attention that an image of Rehtaeh appeared on a dating web site ad that was displayed on Facebook. I found out from a contact on Twitter who sent me the link to Andrew Ennals' feed and screen capture of the image. And there she was, smiling, and being used yet again.
At first I thought it could be a simple mistake but what would the chances of that be, given two images were used? Once maybe, twice has to be intentional. I quickly thought of the marketing some pop stars do before they release a new song and how it's believed even bad press is good press -- so do something outrageous. Would someone do something like this for hits on a web site? Sure they would. It happens all the time.
To their credit Facebook removed the ad with un-Facebook-like speed and banned the company that posted it. My sources in Anonymous tell me the ad's registrant lives in Vietnam and ionechat.com is hosted in the United States. I also heard a spokesperson from the dating site has apologized for it as did someone at Facebook. I'm thankful for that.
Sadly this is the reality of life online. Once an image is out there it's out there forever. There's nothing anyone can do but hope those who come across it will use it respectfully. Sadly that wasn't the case here. I guess I can take solace in knowing ionechat.com will be forever remembered by this public relations bomb. Good on them.
I'm writing this sitting in a downtown Halifax coffee shop. There's some young woman behind me and they just talked about the ad and Rehtaeh. It's hard not to listen.
"Oh my God, that's just so disgusting. Who could do something sick like that?"
Remember, just because those images on Facebook are free it doesn't mean they won't be costly, especially if you lift images of minors. That's probably a good corporate rule to live by.
Florida 2004 (from Facebook)
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.
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>.
Follow Glen Canning on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GlenfordCanning