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:
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) December 21, 2013
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.