PR exec's racist tweet outrages Internet
IAC, the Internet media company run by Barry Diller, removed the name and contact info for communications director Justine Sacco after her racially charged tweet about AIDS and Africa spawned a massive wave of outrage on Twitter. But the company has not confirmed whether she has been fired for the offending tweet. [UPDATE: The company said Saturday afternoon that it has “parted ways” with her.]
On Friday, a tweet posted to Sacco’s account said, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” The tweet and then the account, @JustineSacco, were deleted around midnight Eastern on Friday.
In a statement Friday afternoon, the company said: “This is an outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC. Unfortunately, the employee in question is unreachable on an international flight, but this is a very serious matter and we are taking appropriate action.”
The tweet stirred a major Twitter response and the hashtag “#HasJustineLandedYet” — a reference to Sacco evidently being incommunicado while on a flight to South Africa — was one of the top-trending terms Friday night.
Sacco’s father is a wealthy South African businessman.
Several fake “Justine Sacco” Twitter handles sprang up Friday including a parody account, @LOLJustineSacco. Though an account called @JustineSacco6 claimed to be the flack admitting she had been fired, it was not her, and her employment status remains unconfirmed.
Amid the twitterspheric disturbance, a second meme emerged: Twitter users began urging others to donate to AIDS charities and other aid groups. Thesp Kerry Washington, of ABC’s “Scandal,” retweeted a post noting that a website at justinesacco.com had been set up to solicit donations to an African relief org:
New York-based IAC owns more than 150 Internet brands, including Ask.com, About.com, The Daily Beast, Match.com, HomeAdvisor and Vimeo. The company also is an investor in Aereo, the TV-streaming startup being sued by broadcasters.