NEW YORK (Reuters) – A public relations executive for the prominent New York-based Internet media company IAC lost her job on Saturday after she posted a message joking about AIDS in Africa and race on her Twitter account, sparking an online furor.
“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Justine Sacco, who was IAC’s corporate communications director, wrote in a message on Twitter on Friday, shortly before taking a flight.
The Twitter account has since been deleted, though not before the message was widely circulated online.
IAC, which had earlier condemned the message, said on Saturday that Sacco and the company have now “parted ways”.
Twitter users have posted thousands of comments about the message. Some called the message racist and insensitive. Others defended it as an unsuccessful yet forgivable attempt at humor.
Many users wondered – some angrily, others gleefully – whether Sacco would still have her job after her flight landed.
As it turned out, she didn’t.
IAC operates more than a dozen websites, including the news website the Daily Beast, CollegeHumor, and dating websites like Match.com and OKCupid.
The company distanced itself from the message.
“The offensive comment does not reflect the views and values of IAC,” the company said in a statement on Saturday. “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,” the statement continued. “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.”
There was no reply to an email sent to Sacco’s corporate email address, and she could not be otherwise reached for comment.
(Reporting By Jonathan Allen; Editing by Chris Francescani and Sandra Maler)