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The Facebook Ad That Victimized My Daughter, Rehtaeh

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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.

2013-09-18-rae001.jpg

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.

Rehtaeh Parsons: A Life In Photos
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