Justine Sacco, a PR executive, is in major hot water after publicly tweeting a racist “joke” during a flight to Africa that went viral and didn’t go over too well.
“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” she wrote.
Justine Sacco is a New York-based communications director for media conglomerate IAC, which reps brands like OKCupid, Vimeo and CollegeHumor.
At least she was. IAC responded to the controversy in a statement last night:
“This is an outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC. This is a very serious matter and we are taking appropriate action.”
The company, which is operated by billionaire media executive Barry Diller, noted that it had been unable to reach the in-flight “employee in question.”
It’s unclear why she was flying to the continent in the first place, although she may want to consider staying in Africa after the backlash this caused.
The offending tweet disappeared late last night, or this morning in Africa. Just after midnight in New York, in fact, Sacco’s entire account was gone.
Not before outrage ensued over what many dubbed the “worst tweet of the year,” with one vengeful Twitter user putting Sacco’s cell phone number online.
“She gon get that message I left,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another added, “Listen, homegirl is about to be FIRED.”
Sacco’s tweet also inspired the Twitter hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet, with users mocking her idiocy and speculating what would happen when she lands.
“Sometimes you land with more baggage than you took off with,” one user tweeted, while others were more coarse in what they hoped she’d encounter.
Further looking to capitalize on the situation, someone even created a website in the offending social media user’s name, justinesacco (dot) com
It links to various charities benefiting sub-Saharan Africa.
It’s possible Sacco was the victim of hackers, but her past tweets make that scenario seem less likely. Some of her previous one-liners include …
- “I like animals, but when it’s this cold out I’ll skin one myself for the fur”
- “I can’t be fired for things I say while intoxicated right?”
- “I had a sex dream about an autistic kid last night. #fml”
UPDATE: IAC, which had earlier condemned the now-infamous message, later confirmed that Sacco and the company have now “parted ways.”
Twitter users have posted thousands of comments about the message.
Some called her racist and insensitive. Others defended the Tweet as a failed, yet forgivable attempt at humor. All wondered if she’d still be employed when she landed.
As it turned out, she’s not.