An executive at a New York City-based public relations firm will likely be in hot water after a racist AIDS-related tweet was sent from her account.
Justine Sacco sent a tweet about 8:45 a.m. Arizona time that read, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”
The tweet was retweeted and favorited by other users hundreds of times.
Sacco’s Twitter page said she works in corporate communication at IAC/InterActiveCorp, commonly called IAC, a large public relations firm. An Internet search showed that her full title is Director of Corporate Communications.
According to Wikipedia, IAC owns more than 50 brands in more than 40 countries. The company owns sites such as ask.com, Match.com, Urbanspoon, Vimeo, Dictionary.com and BlackPeopleMeet.com.
According to Business Insider, IAC released a statement that it was aware of the tweet and were taking action.
This is an outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC. Unfortunately, the employee in question is unreachable on an international flight, but this is a very serious matter and we are taking appropriate action.
Sacco’s Twitter account was closed sometime Saturday, but not before the internet went berserk over the offensive post. #HasJustineLandedYet spent time as Twitter’s top trend on Friday, IAC removed Sacco’s name from their website before her flight touched down, AIDS awareness group Aid for Africa plucked up JustineSacco.com and airline wi-fi provider Gogo capitalized on the misstep for its own marketing purposes.
— Gogo (@Gogo) December 21, 2013
Amid the fallout, one Twitter user, @Zac_R, tracked down Sacco’s father in Cape Town. A South African, the elder Sacco told @Zac_R that he chose to raise his family in the United States because of the prevalence of racism in South Africa.
Just had a chat to @JustineSacco's father. He's South African. He didn't want to raise her in South Africa because of racism.
— Zac (@Zac_R) December 21, 2013
On Saturday afternoon, CNN reported that IAC had parted ways with Sacco.