Justine Sacco's AIDS Tweet Controversy

Justine Sacco's AIDS Tweet Controversy

Updated Apr 25, 2014 at 03:09PM EDT by Brad.

Added Dec 21, 2013 at 07:21PM EST by Brad.

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On December 20th, 2013, at 10:19 a.m., InterActiveCorp (IAC) PR executive Justine Sacco tweeted an insensitive joke about AIDS shortly before boarding her flight from London, UK to Cape May, South Africa.

Notable Developments

Throughout the day, the tweet quickly spread beyond her network of hundreds of followers, leading to news articles on Valleywag[2], BuzzFeed[3], Cheezburger[4], The Daily Dot[7], CNN[9] and International Business Times[10], among many others. Within the first 36 hours, Sacco’s tweet received nearly 51,000 replies[11] and led to the creation of several fake Twitter account.[13] In addition, JustineSacco.com[12] was registered as a mirror domain to the HIV/AIDS charity Aid For Africa website.

IAC Statement

That evening, IAC issued a statement denouncing her tweet as an “outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC” and relieved her from the executive position.


Meanwhile, many spectators on Twitter began anticipating Sacco’s reaction as her approximately 11-hour long flight came to an end, which resulted in the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet[5] to trend globally for hours, with more than 98,000 mentions, according to Topsy analytics.[11] By 11:55 p.m., Justine had deleted her account.

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