Justine Sacco, who works for media company IAC, sent out her tweet to more than 4300 followers as she boarded a plane for South Africa, according to Valleywag. “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” she tweeted. The tweet quickly went viral and a representative from IAC (which is the parent company of Vimeo, Tinder and About.com and many more) released a statement condemning Sacco’s joke. “This is an outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, the employee in question is unreachable on an international flight, but this is a very serious matter, and we are taking appropriate action.”
There is some speculation that the PR exec’s twitter account may have been hacked, but Valleywag writer Sam Biddle doubts that’s the case. “That’s harder to pull off when you can see the tweet came from your phone,” Biddle wrote. The tweet had been retweeted more than 3500 times and had more than 1700 favourites before it was deleted. Sacco has reportedly now landed in South Africa, with Twitter user @Zac-R posting pictures of her and family members on the social media site.
He said he was not a journalist, just a local that lived near the airport and “had to see if it was real”. He tweeted that he didn’t believe Sacco was a “horrible person”, just someone that “joked about something that should never be joked about”. “Let’s not get consumed by mob mentality and run her name through the mud. Rather focus on the subject she joked about. Not the tweet,” he wrote. Sacco has deleted her Twitter account, with speculation rife that she may have already been fired by IAC.
Her Twitter account @JustineSacco may have vanished but it was quickly replaced with a fake account with a very similar spelling, @JustineSaccco. The account @lolJustineSacco and hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet were also quickly created to keep everyone entertained.