Former IAC PR Exec Recalls "Traumatic" AIDS Tweet Uproar

Justine Sacco Twiiter Avatar - H 2013

Justine Sacco Twiiter Avatar - H 2013

Justine Sacco reflects on the misstep in a new book

Justine Sacco, the former IAC public relations executive whose offensive tweet about AIDS a year ago became trending news on Twitter, is reportedly featured in a new book where she describes her condition during the backlash.

Sacco's comments were made to Jon Ronson, who is writing a book entitled So You've Been Publicly Shamed, and quoted by BuzzFeed News, which published an advance proof of the book.

"It was incredibly traumatic. You don't sleep. You wake up in the middle of the night forgetting where you are," Sacco is quoted saying. "All of a sudden, you don't know what you're supposed to do."

On Dec. 20 of last year, Sacco wrote a note on her Twitter account before taking a trip to Africa. The tweet read: "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!"

The tweet stayed online for hours without being deleted, and a hashtag (#HasJustineLandedYet) became a trending topic on Twitter. Sacco was subsequently fired as the communications officer at Barry Diller's IAC.

In Ronson's book, Sacco is quoted by BuzzFeed News reflecting on the misstep.

"It was a joke about a dire situation that does exist in post-apartheid South Africa that we don't pay attention to. It was completely outrageous commentary on the disproportionate AIDS statistics," Sacco wrote. "Unfortunately, I am not a character on South Park or a comedian, so I had no business commenting on the epidemic in such a politically incorrect manner on a public platform. To put it simply, I wasn't trying to raise awareness of AIDS, or piss off the world, or ruin my life. Living in America puts us in a bit of a bubble when it comes to what is going on in the third world. I was making fun of that bubble."