Internet Erupts After PR Woman For Media Firm Tweets A “Joke” About Getting AIDS In Africa

Justine Sacco is at the center of a massive Twitter storm after apparently joking that white people can’t get AIDS. Update: The Twitter account has been deleted.

1. UPDATE: Dec. 22, 8:51 a.m., ET: Justine Sacco issued an apology, first to a South African newspaper and then to ABC News.

“My greatest concern was this statement reach South Africa first,” Sacco said, after sending her statement to South African newspaper The Star, Sacco shared the follow apology with ABC:

“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,” 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.”

2. Update — Dec. 21, 4:55 p.m., ET: InterActiveCorp issued a statement that Justine had been let go as their PR director.

“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,” USA Today reports the company said Saturday.

“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,” the statement said.

3. Update — Dec. 21, 12:02 a.m., ET: Justine’s Twitter account is deleted.

The @justinesacco Twitter account was deleted early Saturday without comment, apparently upon her landing in South Africa. The hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet began trending in the hours prior and became the No. 1 trend worldwide.

4. Update — 11:55 p.m. ET: Justine has deleted the tweet and removed her Twitter bio.

After apparently landing at her destination in Cape Town, South Africa, the tweet that sparked outrage Friday was deleted without comment and her bio was removed.

Sacco’s bio Twitter bio reads: “CorpComms at IAC. Troublemaker on the side. Also known for my loud laugh.” IAC is a media company that owns companies like The Daily Beast, College Humor, and Vimeo.

Valleywag’s Sam Biddle reports that IAC contacted him about Sacco’s tweet. An IAC spokesperson said that they are taking appropriate action:

“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.”

Before her tweet on Friday, Sacco had about a hundred followers on Twitter, her count has grown five times that amount.

BuzzFeed has reached out to Sacco for comment and will update this post when we hear back from her.

Correction: Justine Sacco did not issue an apology on Facebook. An earlier version of this post misquoted her.

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