It probably wasn’t the weekend Justine Sacco thought she was heading into when she clicked send on the tweet below and then shut off her phone for a 12-hour international flight.
By that afternoon, the tweet had been posted to Valleywag and the internet was abuzz. Sacco was still in the air, and the tweet was still on her feed. Would there be an apology when she landed? Would the PR boss of IAC (parent company of Tinder, Vimeo and OkCupid) lose her job? One hashtag made its way to the top of the trending list on Twitter: #HasJustineLandedYet.
When Sacco landed in South Africa, she rapidly deleted the tweet, and then her entire account.
IAC announced Sacco had been fired.
Now, Sacco has spoken out herself with an apology, ABC reports, which she first sent to a South African newspaper The Star:
Words cannot express how sorry I am, and how necessary it is for me to apologise to the people of South Africa, who I have offended due to a needless and careless tweet,” Sacco said in the statement. “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.
This is my father’s country, and I was born here. I cherish my ties to South Africa and my frequent visits, but I am in anguish knowing that my remarks have caused pain to so many people here; my family, friends and fellow South Africans. I am very sorry for the pain I caused.
ABC also notes that someone bought the domain www.justinesacco.com, which brings up a donation page for Aid for Africa.