Facebook ads sure are awful. Whether they’re suggesting you “date hot local girls” or “find the perfect phone to match your lifestyle,” you’d think the world’s biggest online media company would have slightly more finesse in the old ad department than banner ads from the year 2000 with random pictures scraped from unwitting users’ profiles.
This is generally accepted as par for the course. But this week, Facebook ran an online dating ad that was worse than usual by a significant margin. This was because it used the picture of the late gang rape victim Rehtaeh Parsons, who committed suicide earlier this year after bullying re-victimized her to an unbearable degree.
As you can see from this screenshot, the ad beckoned prospective online daters to “Find Love in Canada!” with a picture of the deceased 17-year-old. “Meet Canadian girls and women for friendship, dating, or relationships. Signup [sic.] now!”
Parsons’ family was justifiably upset when they saw it, and Facebook took immediate action to remove it. They also banned the company responsible from the social network, and a spokesmen released the following statement:
“This is an extremely unfortunate example of an advertiser scraping an image from the internet and using it in their ad campaign. This is a gross violation of our ad policies and we have removed the ad and permanently deleted the advertiser’s account. We apologise for any harm this caused.”
That’s all good and appropriate, but is Facebook going to address the modus operandi that led to this horrible fuck up in the first place? Because I’m guessing this bright decision was not made by a human being, but a bot programmed to comb the internet for words like “girl,” “Canada,” and “sex,” then post whatever photos resulted. With the internet being as vast as it is, it was only a matter of time before something like this happened, so it might be wise to revisit Facebook’s ad strategies to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
(Via The Cut)