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So, What Happened To The PR Exec Who Tweeted White People Can’t Get AIDS?

by David Badash on December 21, 2013

in News

Post image for So, What Happened To The PR Exec Who Tweeted White People Can’t Get AIDS?

Justine Sacco sent a horrific tweet from London just before boarding a plane to Cape Town, South Africa yesterday. By the time her flight was over, so was her career. Yes, Justine Sacco has been sacked.

Sacco, at the time the head of Public Relations for IAC, one of the world’s largest internet companies, tweeted:

“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

IAC is home to major corporations, including Match.com, Vimeo, HomeAdvisor, Chemistry.com, the Daily Beast, OK Cupid, Dictionary.com. UrbanSpoon, Ask.com, and  dozens of others.

Sacco even described herself as a “troublemaker on the side” in her own Twitter bio — an account that has since been deleted.

Justine Sacco (JustineSacco) on Twitter-1

Once her tweet was seen by some of the internet’s most powerful, like Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, it was only a matter of minutes for it to literally be seen around the world.

Sacco’s name was quickly scrubbed from her employer’s website, even before her plane landed. An Archive.org cached copy of the page from September clearly shows her name used to appear on that page.

In a statement to The New Civil Rights Movement, IAC this afternoon wrote:

The offensive comment does not reflect the views and values of IAC. We take this issue very seriously, and we have parted ways with the employee in question.

There is no excuse for the hateful statements that have been made and we condemn them unequivocally. We hope, however, that time and action, and the forgiving human spirit, will not result in the wholesale condemnation of an individual who we have otherwise known to be a decent person at core.

One enterprising individual in Cape Town who goes by the name of @Zac_R on Twitter, decided to actually meet Sacco when she landed. He even spoke with her father, whom he says reminds him “of the many (often racist) South Africans I met while living in Australia, who couldn’t embrace change.”

Here are a few more insightful tweets he sent last night:

And indeed, JustineSacco.com has been registered to Aid for Africa, “a unique partnership of some 85 select charities, all dedicated to solving the complex, inter-related challenges facing Sub Saharan Africa.”

So, at least something good has come of what was deemed the worst tweet of all time.

UPDATE — 12.22 2:30 PM ET:

Sacco issued an apology. Via ABC:

“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.”

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{ 10 comments }

DannyEVillage December 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm

My, my, my–and I thought Americans were stupid.

ToraHighman December 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I'm pretty sure she (Justine Sacco) is a stupid American.

ymarsakar December 24, 2013 at 11:14 am

Did you just say in public that South African blacks are stupid?

JohnnyRalph December 21, 2013 at 10:26 pm

This isn't politically incorrect. It's just flat out lame, unfunny and cliche.

labman57 December 22, 2013 at 1:57 am

File this under the category of all-too prevalent anti-social utterances known as "Tweets by racist Twits".

Moral of the story — People lacking impulse control should not have Twitter accounts.
All too often, they have second thoughts about their foolish online comments and need to follow up with an apology:
"Forgive me Lord, for I know not what I tweet."

dauphinjo December 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm

I have a problem with her apology.
She apologized to the people of South Africa as if they are the only ones offended. The tweet was apparently directed towards them but she said Africa- a land mass that people like her will just lump all the countries together because they think they are all the same. And then there's the fact that it is just plain offensive. Contrary to some folks belief you don't have to be black to find racist comments offensive.

Nomadic_view December 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm

I also have a problem with the apology but for a slightly more obvious reason. That last line:
" it is terribly easy to be cavalier about an epidemic that one has never witnessed firsthand"

I don't have to witness tragedies first hand to feel empathy for the victims.And, perhaps it's naive, but I would say that still holds true for the majority of people.

For some very callous and thoughtless people, I suppose it could be true but I think she is trying to place herself in the untouchable invisible majority. NO, it is not easy to be cavalier except when you have lost all sense of empathy and compassion for your fellow human being.

teeveedub December 22, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Aside from the utter racism and general offensiveness of her tweet, can someone please explain to me how this person managed to find work in public relations, given her abject lack of sensitivity and dignity?

osckar30 December 23, 2013 at 6:50 am

pity the bitch wasn't a recipient of the virus

ymarsakar December 24, 2013 at 10:03 am

If you get raped in South Africa, as many women are by regime officials or thugs, the virus will transmit more times than not.

Currently, the cultural propaganda is that sex with teens or pre teen girls in Africa will cure AIDS. The fact that this actually spreads it is either an intentional mistake or an unintentional mistake.

Regardless, the problem with the thought crime and the thought police still stands as is. AIDS is not the only problem in Africa, and PC is not the only problem in America.

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