Internet media firm IAC has sacked its public relations officer last weekend after she tweeted an insensitive and distasteful joke about AIDS in Africa. This is another proof that inappropriate and irresponsible use of the social media could lead to unlikely and painful consequences.
Justine Sacco, now a former corporate communications director at the New-York based company, instantly drew online rage after a controversial joke she posted at her Twitter account on Friday. She was taking a flight to the continent that day for a business trip. Here’s what she tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”
After incurring online furor over that message, Sacco not just deleted the tweet; she deleted her Twitter account entirely. But it was too late for the PR executive. Her insensitive message had then already circulated widely online. And when the controversy reached her employer, she was headed for a life-changing disaster.
Condemning the tweet
IAC not just condemned the message and sympathized with those who were greatly offended by the tweet. The company immediately called Sacco and fired her (supposedly after conducting due process). In its own words, IAC said it had ‘parted ways’ with Sacco.
This could be considered as a logical move for IAC. It currently operates a number of content Websites, including news site the Daily Beast, dating sites OKCupid and Match.com, and CollegeHumor.
In a statement, IAC clarified that Sacco’s comment did not reflect the views as well as the prevailing values within the company. It assured netizens that it is taking the issue ‘very seriously.’ Thus, it reiterated that it has distanced itself from that message.
Failed attempt at humor
The company added that it sees no excuse for the condemnable statements. IAC said it also condemns that tweet ‘unequivocally.’ But in the end, the company has somehow asked the public to still forgive Sacco, whom it said it had known to be a decent person until this controversy.
As expected, numerous Twitter users instantly reacted to Sacco’s tweet. Most of the reactions reflected anger over the insensitive remarks. However, some people defended the act as an ‘unsuccessful but forgivable’ attempt to be humorous. Many others had wondered if Sacco would keep her job once her flight landed on Africa. Now, we know the answer. She is yet to release her own statement about the controversy.
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