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Justine Sacco: Once Again, Twitter Can Get You Fired

Topics: Current Events

You’d think a professional PR person of Justine Sacco’s title and experience would understand the dangers of inappropriate tweeting — but apparently, you would think wrong.


(Photo Credit: petesimon/Flickr)

The former head of PR for IAC, the media conglomerate that owns over 30 companies, including, College Humor, and, was fired after tweeting the following, prior to boarding a flight to South Africa:

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Sacco Tweet 

(Screenshot via Business Insider.)

IAC immediately released a statement, saying:

“This is an outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC. Unfortunately, the employee in question is unreachable on an international flight, but this is a very serious matter and we are taking appropriate action.”

The internet promptly went ballistic. The hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet took off on Twitter, and someone even tweeted a photo of Sacco on her cellphone at the airport in Cape Town. (Zac_R reported that he overheard her saying, “No! I really didn’t think it would!”)

By Saturday afternoon, Sacco had been fired and issued an apology:

“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. 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.”

What have we learned from all this? Well, nothing that we didn’t know before, really, with the possible exception of the fact that the internet can now find out that you’ve been fired before you know you’ve been fired.

That’s sort of scary, in a George Orwell kind of way — but not as scary as the fact that high-ranking public relations pros still think it’s OK to tweet AIDS jokes.

(Disclosure: I was a former employee of, pre-IAC days, and have freelanced for the site under IAC.)

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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