A New York-based public relations executive offered an unsparing apology for a toxic tweet about AIDS in Africa that triggered outrage across the Internet, but the apology wasn't enough to save her job.
InterActiveCorp fired communications director Justine Sacco after she posted on her Twitter account while on an international flight to South Africa: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”
By the time she landed, it had sparked a furor online, including the Twitter hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet. It was the top non-promoted hashtag during her flight, and remained a top trending topic on Twitter on Saturday.
Sacco’s Twitter account was deleted shortly after, and Sunday, she issued in a statement apologizing for what she said was a “needless and careless tweet.”
"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," Sacco said in the statement. "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."
IAC said in a statement Saturday: “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,” the statement went on. “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.”
IAC owns Match.com, About.com, Vimeo, OKCupid and the Daily Beast.