Former IAC PR Exec Apologizes After AIDS Tweet Uproar
Barry Diller's IAC has parted ways with communications officer Justine Sacco after a widely ridiculed tweet was posted on her Twitter account on Friday. The public relations executive issued an apology over the weekend, expressing regret over the social media post to South Africans.
"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, which first appeared in South African newspaper The Star, according to ABC News. "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."
On Friday, Sacco's account sent the following tweet: "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!"
The comment was widely circulated on Twitter and it wasn't deleted for several hours. Sacco's account gained several thousand followers throughout the day as the public relations executive was heavily criticized for the post. IAC had already removed Sacco's name from its corporate website prior to sending out its statement.
On Saturday, IAC issued a statement that it had parted ways with Sacco. "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," the IAC statement read. "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."
Sacco's previous posts on Twitter included "Chili- cucumber sandwiches- bad teeth. Back in London!" and "'Weird German Dude: You're in first class. It's 2014. Get some deodorant. ' -Inner monologue as I inhale BO. Thank god for pharmaceuticals" that were also criticized in context of the last tweet on the account.
A day after the viral tweet, the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet -- a reference to the communications officer being on a flight during the social media firestorm -- was still a trending topic in the U.S. on Twitter. IAC operates many digital media brands, including Ask.com, Match.com, Dictionary.com and The Daily Beast.