Justine Sacco apologizes for offensive AIDS tweet

justine sacco
Justine Sacco, a PR exec who tweeted a joke about AIDS in Africa, has been fired.
Credit: Facebook

Justine Sacco, former PR executive at Barry Diller’s IAC, apologized for her now infamous tweet in which she joked, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just Kidding. I’m White!” Sacco posted the tweet before she got on her flight, prompting Twitter users to create the hashtag #hasjustinelandedyet.

ABC reports that Sacco sent an apology to the South African newspaper The Star, writing, “My greatest concern was this statement reach South Africa first. 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. 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.”

Sacco, who deleted all of her social media accounts after the tweet went viral, was fired by her company. IAC, which runs digital media heavyweights like Match.com and Dictionary.com, released a statement Saturday about Sacco’s termination: “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. 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.”

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark


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