PR Exec Fired, Offers Apology for AIDS Tweet

IAC's Justine Sacco angers the world with her tweet about AIDS and Africa.

BY Neal Broverman

December 21 2013 4:03 PM ET UPDATED: December 22 2013 2:18 PM ET

Justine Sacco has been fired from her position as head of global communications for Barry Diller’s IAC internet company after she sent a racist tweet about AIDS in Africa.

Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!

— Justine Sacco (@JustineSacco) December 20, 2013

IAC issued a statement on Saturday saying, "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."

The Twitter-verse went wild after Sacco’s missive went viral and she boarded her plane to Africa; the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet trended and a website in her name launched (linked to Aid for Africa). You’d think Sacco would know better: she was a public relations executive, managing media for high-profile websites like OKCupid, Vimeo, and The Daily Beast. Read more here.

Sacco apologized on Sunday, with a statement to 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.

For being insensitive to this crisis -- which does not discriminate by race, gender or sexual orientation, but which terrifies us all uniformly -- and to the millions of people living with the virus, I am ashamed. This is my father's country, and I was born here. I cherish my ties to South Africa and my frequent visits, but I am in anguish knowing that my remarks have caused pain to so many people here; my family, friends and fellow South Africans. I am very sorry for the pain I caused."

Tags: HIV, Media

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