Possibly the worst Facebook ad ever

I am completely bewildered and disgusted by this. This is my daughter, Rehtaeh. They have her in an ad for meeting singles. I don’t even know what to say.


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.


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30 thoughts on “Possibly the worst Facebook ad ever

  1. I am stunned…Just read about this in the news on the internet..

    Yes, I am glad that Facebook took the image down, when notified..

    WHY did Facebook not BAN this company?
    WHY did Facebook not alert the Police and insist charges be laid for — Misappropriation of Image? – Internet Abuse? … etc etc etc???/

    1. A) they were banned.
      B) you’re marveling at their ineptitude yet calling for them to be arrested for “Internet abuse”? Wow.

      1. sorry to not be more clear, Jack/Ryan
        when I read the news article, there had, that I could find not yet been the Facebook ban…so kudos there

        Ryan, again, sorry to have written in haste and not been clear, it was the company who had unauthorized use of this young woman’s picture, who I felt should be charged/arrested, “for something”…couldn’t quite think of what charge/s might apply.

  2. WordsFailMe – Facebook did permanently disable the advertiser’s account and it looks like the site they were advertising is closed as well. As far as criminal charges, what charge in what jurisdiction would you propose? Facebook doesn’t control the content of ads on their network (other than on/off, and in this case they switched it to off once they were alerted what happened), so you’re really left going after the ad company… and if they’re using some automated function to grab pics there’s likely no criminal intent. I think what you’re really after is that there should be CIVIL complaints filed against them (not criminal), and I’d agree. Without being morbid, I’d think Rehtaeh’s estate would have standing to bring such action, but I’m not a lawyer.

    Disgusting? Absolutely. Also another indictment of our current system of internet advertising by third-parties without a suitable review process. How many years, though, before the image gets reused again in wider distribution because the next generation of online user doesn’t recognize her? You’re right that there needs to be harsher civil penalties for this type of behavior… and if I were the family I’d think about personal claims for anguish caused by their actions, too. Abhorrent.

    1. Mike, again, my apologies for not being clear, and writing my comment before all news articles were read…..

      re “what jurisdiction”…? well, don’t know, how about “Canadian Law”? again, I don’t know, but is it legal in this country to take someone’s image and use it for whatever purpose the business pleases? Does there not have to be signed releases? In the case of a minor, would there not have to be parental/guardian more stringent releases? Does someone loose their right to own their image because they are deceased? Truly I do not know, but judging fr the celebrities who seem to win court cases against unauthorized/inappropriate use of their image, I suspect, to use the picture of someone, there needs be signed releases????

      also, to use the picture of a minor in a questionable “dating” site (was it a dating site or a porn site?), IN CANADA, wouldn’t that be darn close to “child pornography”?

      Mike, re you’re comment that the company (dating / porn site) used some automatic function, so there is no criminal intent…..well, I suspect , in Canada, a company is responsible/liable for their business/their adds/their content……

      Mike, I suspect, in Canada, it might not be legal to have some spam bot grab any image off of this page (maybe yours?), and use it to advertise any number of “weird” “odd” “interesting” “perverted” situations???

  3. Hi Glenn,
    I´m from Argentina and came up to this…
    I find this use of image absolutely disgusting, and I can imagine how was your feelling when you found it.
    Abuses like this demostrate that we need stronger regulation upon the Internet. ICANN (http://www.icann.org/) is not enough, and the consecuences of this cannot be only apologises. This abuses must be penaliced, or they will just keep happening and the companies will just keep saying sorry.

  4. hi glen – there are no words. all i can think to say is i’m sorry. your line “‘And there she was, smiling, and being used yet again'” so gut renchingly perfectly encapsulates everything wrong with what this company has done. please stay strong. love and prayers.

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  6. Glen, I’m so sorry that this happened. Glad someone out there screen capped and reported it.

    I noticed a spike in view count for
    my blog post about Rehtaeh and knew that she must have been in the news. As if you and your family haven’t been through enough, eh? And I don’t care how ‘random’ their algorithms are — once is an accident, two is on purpose. How shameful of them!

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  9. Domain Name: IONECHAT.COM
    Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
    Updated Date: 2013-08-03 14:34:56
    Creation Date: 2013-08-03 13:44:39
    Registrar Expiration Date: 2014-08-03 13:44:39
    Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
    Registrant Name: Dung Nguyen
    Registrant Organization:
    Registrant Street: 600 Ba Hat Street Ward 6 District 10
    Registrant City: Ho Chi Minh
    Registrant State/Province: N/A
    Registrant Postal Code: 70000
    Registrant Country: Vietnam
    Admin Name: Dung Nguyen
    Admin Organization:
    Admin Street: 600 Ba Hat Street Ward 6 District 10
    Admin City: Ho Chi Minh
    Admin State/Province: N/A
    Admin Postal Code: 70000
    Admin Country: Vietnam
    Admin Phone: 84983810377
    Admin Fax:
    Admin Email: mr.anhdung@gmail.com
    Tech Name: Dung Nguyen
    Tech Organization:
    Tech Street: 600 Ba Hat Street Ward 6 District 10
    Tech City: Ho Chi Minh
    Tech State/Province: N/A
    Tech Postal Code: 70000
    Tech Country: Vietnam
    Tech Phone: 84983810377
    Tech Fax:
    Tech Email: mr.anhdung@gmail.com

  10. I always found the Pot Farm advertisements funny. Especially when FaceBook advertised which of your friends were Pot Farmers.

  11. Really disgusting indeed ! With the current design of centralized internet where one doesn’t own their data, but rather people’s data is stored at the data centers of internet giants, these things are bound to happen. As long as companies can justify lack of knowledge, they can pretty much get away with any breach of privacy violations.

    In this context, I would like to mention Blib (https://register.blib.us) wherein we have been trying to make a privacy aware media sharing platform, where the user owns their data. Currently it supports file storage (like dropbox), photo albums and ebook library on user’s private cloud, which they can share with their trusted friends, but we plan to enhance it to support various social media applications. Being decentralized, it inherently guarantees that user’s data stays on their hardware at all times and always leaves encrypted.

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  13. Words can not describe how enraged I was when I heard of this despicable incident. I am so sorry on behalf of this company’s cruel actions. I wish the best of you and your family and would like to remind you that there are good people out there, people that have wanted justice for your immensely missed daughter for almost 2 years now. Rest in peace beautiful Rehtaeh; no matter how much these fools try to desecrate you you will always be a shining beacon of light, and a reminder to us all of how far we have not yetbcome.

  14. I have just read this news article


    and I am very sad to hear that someone is now petitioning / pleading minors NOT be able to be charged with Child Pornography.

    It seems to me that this 16 yr old young person started a situation of abuse and criminal harassment ….sent naked pics of her boyfriend’s previous girlfriend to others, and harassed the girl, (who knows where these all ended up?), and is now charged with child pornography.

    I sincerely hope the charges “stick”

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  17. I’ve already sent this little message to Rehtaeh’s mother, you were so close to your lovely daughter that it’s for you too.
    I’m ashamed of my limited English. I’m French. Because of this horrific mistake of nasty pub, I’ve learnt the torture of your so lovely Rehtaeh. Immediately and can’t explain why, even before reading the pathetic article, I’ve seen her as my little sister, a niece, a teenager that I could really adore. I found incredibly the sweetness and charming face, and I can’t believe the continuous sufferings of this angel. And how was I stunned reading her passion of animals, as me, and her marvelous Ozzy, as mine, Estoril that I still adore one year after he left me. And even in her worst moments she carried with dogs that, as her, was blamed and harassed by pathetic and appalling people. The more I read her passions, her suffering, the more I feel this marvelous girl and hate this World that understand the obvious facts when it’s too late. Even if justice do not its job, God will do. And I hope that never those 4 cowards will see them as “men”. I pray and I’ll do all I can to make come true that beloved Rehtaeh is not gone for nothing. If God had decided to make endure all these martyrs to an exceptional girl, that’s because He surely wants her to be the symbol of the most lovely in a world of rotted. I would like that a shelter or a foundation (human or animal) bear her name. Have Canada already purpose it to you ? You’ll win for her, I swear it. I give you (as she does so fervently) will power and courage, and kiss little Ozzy.

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