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Dating website closes after using photo of dead teen Retaeh Parsons for Facebook ad

Retaeh Parsons, 17, died in April after a suicide attempt following months of cyber-bullying after an alleged sexual assault.

Parsons facebook dating ad 09 18 13Enlarge
Owners of ionechat.com closed the dating website on Sept. 18, 2013, after is used an image of Canadian girl Retaeh Parsons for a Facebook ad. Parsons, 17, died in April after a suicide attempt after months of bullying following an alleged sexual assault. (Twitter/Screengrab)

The dating website ionechat.com has been shut down after it used images of dead Canadian girl Rehtaeh Parsons for its Facebook advertising.

Owner Anh Dung, who runs the site from Vietnam, told the Toronto Sun he didn’t realize whose photos he scraped from the Internet.

“I feel so guilty when I think of it and I don’t want to run it anymore,” Dung said, the Sun reported.

The advertisements said “Find love in Canada! Meet Canadian girls and women for friendship, dating, or relationships.”

Facebook users alerted the social media company to the problem when they recognized Parsons’ photo from news stories.

“It kind of caught my eye because it’s a photo that we’ve all seen a lot,” Andrew Ennals told the Toronto Star.

He took a screen grab of the image and sent it out via Twitter.

Parsons, a 17-year-old Halifax girl, died in April after doctors removed her from life support following a suicide attempt.

Her family said she was bullied relentlessly following an alleged sexual assault. Those involved shared an image of the assault online.

“That’s just disgusting to do something like that considering the circumstances of her death, where she was bullied and tormented online over a photo,” her father, Glen Canning told Global News.

“Now you have some company do it in an advertisement on Facebook. It’s inexcusable. I really am absolutely lost for words.”

Parsons’ ordeal led the Nova Scotia government to introduce tough new cyber-bullying laws.

Facebook apologized for the mistake, calling it a “gross violation” of its policies and banned ionechat.com from advertising.

Two 18-year-old men are scheduled to appear in court Thursday to face child pornography charges in the case.

More from GlobalPost: Effects of bullying last a lifetime, study says

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/canada/130918/retaeh-parsons-photo-facebook-dating-website-ionechat

Anthony Waye More than 1 year ago
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