Fired PR Exec Apologizes After Racist Tweet About AIDS in Africa

By John Vibes | December 23, 2013 | 4:00am EST

Public relations executive creates public relations disaster with racist tweet

twitter screenshot
twitter screenshot

(INTELLIHUB) — Justine Sacco, director of communications for IAC was recently fired for a remark made on Twitter about how she hoped to not get AIDS on her trip to Africa.

 IAC is a leading media and Internet company that manages some of the most popular sites on the web like Vimeo, OkCupid, Tinder, CollegeHumor and  As a public relations executive you would think that Justine Sacco would know better, but this Friday she made the following post to her twitter page:

“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white! Justine Sacco (@JustineSacco) December 20, 2013”

Hours later a representative from IAC emailed the following comment to the International Business Times when asked about the tweet:

“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.”[1]

Last year Justine seemed to have gotten away with posting the following remark to her twitter page:

“I had a sex dream about an autistic kid last night. #fml.”

The day that she landed in Africa after her most recent comment she was fired, and soon after she released the following statement:

“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. “[2]

When the controversy began Justine deleted her twitter account.



[1] PR Exec Tweets, ‘Going to Africa. Hope I Don’t Get AIDS. Just Kidding. I’m White!’ – The Root

[2] Justine Sacco Apologizes for Africa AIDS Tweet – The Root

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VibesJG Vibes is an investigative journalist, staff writer and editor. He is also the author of “Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance”, an 87 chapter e-book and is an artist with an established record label. Find him on his Facebook.
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