Barry Diller's IAC Responds to 'Outrageous' AIDS Tweet From PR Exec's Account
Editor's note: Justine Sacco is no longer with IAC. Read the story here. The original post is below.
Barry Diller's IAC has issued a statement saying that it is "taking appropriate action" after a comment posted on the Twitter account of its corporate communications officer incited ridicule on social media.
On Friday, the account of IAC's Justine Sacco sent the following tweet.
Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!— Justine Sacco (@JustineSacco) December 20, 2013
The tweet was deleted shortly before 7 a.m. Cape Town time (roughly the time her flight from London was scheduled to land), and her entire account was deleted shortly after. Sacco has also been removed from IAC's contacts page, where it formerly listed her as the contact for reporter inquiries.
Her tweet was subsequently picked up on Valleywag and widely circulated on Twitter. The IAC communications office issued a response, noting that Sacco was currently on a flight.
"This is an outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC," a statement to THR read. "Unfortunately, the employee in question is unreachable on an international flight, but this is a very serious matter, and we are taking appropriate action."
IAC, a media company, houses digital brands that include The Daily Beast, About.com, Match.com and Ask.com. It also owns BlackPeopleMeet.com, a dating website catering to African Americans.
The tweet was sent from London, apparently from Heathrow Airport.
It was not the first tweet sent from the account with questionable content. On Friday, a tweet from Sacco's account read "Chili- cucumber sandwiches- bad teeth. Back in London!" while the day before another read " 'Weird German Dude: You're in first class. It's 2014. Get some deodorant.' " -Inner monologue as I inhale BO. Thank god for pharmaceuticals." In January, she tweeted “I can’t be fired for things I say while intoxicated right?”
The biography section of the now-deleted Twitter account used to read "CorpComms at IAC. Troublemaker on the side. Also known for my loud laugh."
Before her account was deleted, Sacco had gained more than 6,000 followers since sending the controversial tweet, Late Friday night, the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet began trending, with some tweeters counting down the hours until her flight from London to Cape Town landed.
A wireless internet provider, Gogo, also jumped into the social media fray to capitalize on the attention from the tweet. The service appears to have reconsidered weighing in the topic and later issued an apparent apology:
@JustineSacco,apologize for response to your tweet.Right or wrong,It’s not our policy to engage on these subjects.We clearly need a review.— Gogo (@Gogo) December 21, 2013
Users also flooded her account with complaints about the tweet, with a number predicting it would end her employment at IAC:
“@JustineSacco: Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!” WOW! Good luck with the new job search!— J'lyn Nye (@JlynNye) December 21, 2013