Racist tweet gets PR woman fired


Justine Sacco, who up until Friday was one of the top PR workers at InterActiveCorp (IAC), has been fired for sending out a racist tweet.

The tweet in question was, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”, and it had been posted on the now deleted @justinesacco Twitter account. It is definitely a bone-headed tweet, even more so coming from someone who you would think had some proficiency in public relations given that it was their job.

The internet picked up on the tweet immediately and within no time so had IAC, who own a multitude of companies, some of which are Match.com and Dictionary.com, and they promptly fired Sacco. 

They released a statement which said that “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. “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.”

Apparently Sacco did have a history of tweeting comments that weren’t the most appropriate. According to the Times back in January she had tweeted, “I can’t be fired for things I say while intoxicated right?” Now while that doesn’t bother me at all, you can see how it might point to a consistency in poor judgement when tweeting from the former IAC PR woman.

There have been apologies made from the @JustineSacco6, but there are a lot of rumors going around about that being a fake account, and it has already been deleted as well. Hopefully Sacco learns from her mistakes, but it is doubtful that she will find work in the public relations sector any time soon.

[via Venture Beat]

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  • Josh

    I’m with Mike S. on this one. Seriously, could we not be so quick to call everything racist all the time? Just because someone mentions race, doesn’t make them racist. This comment was maybe in poor taste, perhaps a comment one might make to close friends who know your joking; it isn’t racist, however.

  • Mike S.

    [@BruceM] Interesting–I hadn’t realized that this was done “personally” in nature, making, to me, the outcome even less fortunate.

  • BruceM

    Whether or not you find this young lady’s tweeted comment to be racist or not (especially taking into account that she is, supposedly, from South Africa), no one can deny that it was a bone-headedly stupid comment. What is troubling about this story, at least to me, is that she was fired for making a personal tweet that had nothing to do with her job, was put out on her personal twitter account, and did not identify / link to her employer.

    I question her employer’s decision to fire her, in such a publicly disparaging manner, rather than simply making a statement that this lady’s comments were of a personal nature and not related to her job, if they even felt the need to identify themselves as her employer at all (if they had not, I would neither have known who she worked for, nor felt motivated to find out).

    This is actually quite a troubling trend, where individuals are fired by otherwise anonymous companies for stupid personal comments, or, in some cases, are being required to provide potential employers with the user-name / passwords to their social media accounts (such as Facebook), so that the employer can evaluate the comments on that site as part of their employment decision-making process, whether the fact of having such a social media account is job-related or not.

  • Mike S.

    Racist? Or, rather, not commendable/conscious/sensitive/appropriate?

    And who amongst us hasn’t made an unfortunate comment (or 2 or 3), sometimes even in social media? Should this really result in a loss of one’s livelihood, assuming no malintent and persistent pattern, and no resulting persistent mental or physical pain? I’ve routinely allowed poor and unfortunate comments addressed to me just to fly by, or take them as an opportunity to try and educate–does life really need to be so unforgiving, and should it be?

    Maybe my mind will be different tomorrow–but for today, I’m just sayin’.