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Justin Sacco, a public relations executive for InterActiveCorp sent out an offensive tweet just before a flight from London to South Africa that exploded on the Internet. IAC later responded by removing her from its website and vowed to take immediate action when she landed.
The tweet was first picked up by Valleywag and read “Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!” It was deleted when she arrived in Johannesburg and she quickly deleted her Twitter account as well.
According to Business Insider, the tweet circulated for hours before Sacco finally landed and the hashtag “#HasJustineLandedYet” became a trending topic. The site notes that a Twitter user claimed to have met Sacco’s father, who is South African, at the airport and said that he confirmed that his daughter was regretted her actions.
During the flight, IAC did send the following statement, noting that she was still on her flight at the time. “This is an outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC,” the company said. “Unfortunately, the employee in question is unreachable on an international flight, but this is a very serious matter and we are taking appropriate action.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sacco’s name was pulled from IAC’s site. And while others complained about her offensive tweet, some jumped on it as a marketing opportunity, including the non-profit group Aid for Africa, which registered the URL JustineSacco.com.
IAC is a major media company, owning sites like The Daily Beast and Ask.com, as well as the dating sites Match.com and BlackPeopleMeet.com.