Justine Sacco, a PR executive who found herself at the center of a media firestorm after posting a racist tweet has not only been fired but now forced to apologize for what she has called a joke. Even though there is not much more Sacco can do, her apology won’t suffice for what has been deemed by the public as the most racist tweet of all time.
Sacco’s infamous tweet read “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS, Just kidding. I’m white!” That tweet went viral on Friday while Sacco was offline flying to Cape Town, South Africa.
Sacco apologized in a written statement that read:
“For being insensitive to this crisis – which does not discriminate by gender, race or sexual orientation; but which terrifies us all uniformly – and to the millions of people who are living with the virus, I am ashamed.” Sacco, who said she’s a native of South Africa, wrote that she is sorry for all the pain she has caused and the people of South Africa that she’s hurt.”
This incident, which was an ironic twist coming from a major public relations person, is a reminder that everything people put on the internet has the ability to travel faster than a speeding bullet and often carries with it serious consequences.
Before boarding the flight to South Africa Sacco was the head of corporate communications for the media company chaired by Barry Diller called IAC. This company operates multiple online sites such as: The Daily Beast, CollegeHumor, About.com, Match.com and Vimeo.
Sacco was leaving from London and heading to South Africa for a long vacation when she issued a tweet to her relatively small network of followers. She had no idea that her tweet had gone viral while she was in the airwaves for 12 hours, totally disconnected from the internet and outside world. Sacco boarded her flight with about 200 twitter followers but had gained thousands hours before her British Airways flight arrived at its destination.
An IAC representative told the International Business Times, while Sacco was unaware of the commotion she had started, that her offensive and outrageous comment was not a reflection of the views or values of IAC. They concluded their statement by saying that the employee was on an international flight and therefore unreachable, but they considered the matter very serious and were taking appropriate action.
IAC quickly parted ways with Sacco after the tweet. They issued another statement that read:
“…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.”
By the time Sacco landed in South Africa her tweet had been retweeted well over 3,000 times and was picked up by news sites around the world. Sacco’s twitter account has since been deleted and before she got off the plane IAC had removed her name from their website and any other public communications.
Sacco may have only had about 200 followers when she posted what’s been deemed the most racist tweet of all time but it quickly spread worldwide. There’s no excuse for a “supposed” public relations expert to have thought it was acceptable to publish such an insensitive tweet on a social media site of any kind.
On Sunday Justine Sacco, a former public relations executive who started a mass firestorm of controversy on Twitter, apologized for her careless tweet about the AIDS epidemic in Africa. She called the tweet a joke but for many sufferers AIDS has never been considered a joking matter.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Guardian Liberty Voice