Justine Sacco is a former PR executive at InterActiveCorp (IAC). She was fired because she wrote an offensive tweet that said “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Sacco was a senior director of corporate communications at IAC. IAC owns websites like Match.com, The Daily Beast, About.com, OkCupid, CollegeHumor.com, and Dictionary.com.
“Words cannot express how sorry I am, and how necessary it is for me to apologize to the people of South Africa, who I have offended due to a needless and careless tweet. There is an AIDS crisis taking place in this country, that we read about in America, but do not live with or face on a continuous basis. Unfortunately, it is terribly easy to be cavalier about an epidemic that one has never witnessed firsthand,” said Sacco in a statement sent to ABC.
Sacco lost her job after a major backlash on the Internet. Sacco wrote the tweet before hopping on a plane to South Africa. While she was on the plane, a Twitter hashtag skyrocketed on social media: #HasJustineLanded. IAC issued a statement while Sacco was in the air about how she was on a plane so they could not confirm if her account was hacked. When Sacco landed, it was confirmed that she did write the tweet and she was fired. She attempted to circumvent the issue by deleting the tweet and her Twitter account, but it was too late. Screenshots of her offensive tweet was everywhere.
“The offensive comment does not reflect the views and values of IAC,” said IAC in a statement on Saturday. “We take this issue very seriously, and we have parted ways with the employee in question.”