A public relations executive who held a top position in a media firm was fired after sending a tweet that sparked outrage for what is being described as racial insensitivity. CNN reports that Justine Sacco, who headed corporate communications for IAC, the media company chaired by Barry Diller, was let go.
IAC said it “parted ways” with Sacco after she wrote, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!"
In a statement, an IAC spokesman said: “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."
Sacco sent the tweet before she left Friday for Cape Town, South Africa. The message created outrage on social media, with Boing Boing calling it “the tweet heard round the world.”
Given that Sacco’s job was to communicate with reporters, her insensitive tweet was “all the more shocking,” CNN notes. Before she posted her comment, her Twitter account was relatively unknown, with just 500 followers. As Sacco was on a flight to South Africa, her tweet went viral.
“Websites such as Valleywag and Buzzfeed highlighted Sacco’s account, and soon it had thousands of followers — and thousands of harsh replies directed at it. Some were downright hateful. Others said they felt sorry for Sacco, regardless of how offensive her Twitter message was, because she hadn’t had a chance to defend herself during the 12-hour flight,” the story adds.