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Rehteah Parsons: Teen's photo shows up on Facebook dating ad well after suicide

Facebook is facing criticism over an incident by one of the ad sponsors on their website for using a photograph of Rehteah Parsons.
By CAROLINE LEE, UPI.com   |   Sept. 19, 2013 at 10:21 AM   |   Comments

Sept. 19 (UPI) -- After the cyberbullying-related suicide of Canadian Rehteah Parsons, it was certain the teen would never return to social media.

Or so her family thought. Facebook is facing criticism over an incident by one of the ad sponsors on its website following the use of a photo of Parsons.

Parsons was the victim of a sexual assault who was bullied at her school and online over the incident. She committed suicide not long thereafter the two incidents.

Facebook advertiser lonechat.com used Parsons' image in their ads promoting Canadian girls for the online dating site.

The ad with Parsons' photo read, "Find love in Canada! Meet Canadian girls and women for friendship, dating and relationships."

Parsons was Canadian and the use of her image sparked controversy over Facebook's privacy policy, which allows Facebook's advertisers to use their users' personal information.

Facebook has since apologized to the family of the victim, and has called the use of the photo a "gross violation" of its policies. They have not commented on the site's own policies.

The administrator of lonechat.com, Anh Dung, said the photos used in the ads and were taken randomly from Google by an image scraper.

“I’m a foreigner, so I didn’t even know her name and the story … so I didn’t know it was the victim’s photo,” Dung wrote in an email, adding that he immediately took the website down after receiving emails from reporters.

“I feel so guilty, I sincerely apologize,” he continued. “I’m so stressed right now.”

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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