The Justine Sacco Story: How A PR Exec. Caused Her Own Bad Publicity!
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

The Justine Sacco Story: How A PR Exec. Caused Her Own Bad Publicity!

A Life Lesson On Why You Should “Think Before You Tweet.”

10953
The Justine Sacco Story: How A PR Exec. Caused Her Own Bad Publicity!
Justine Sacco

Imagine this scenario, you are flying from New York to South Africa in order to visit your family. It is December 20th, 2013 and you have landed in London for a layover. Right before you board, you have decided to tweet a funny joke to your 170 followers. Before the flight takes off, you see no new notifications. After 11 hours in the air, you have finally landed. Once you have turned your phone back on, you have discovered that you are the #1 trending topic on Twitter, worldwide. Also, fired from your Senior Director of Corporate Communications job at InterActive Corporation. If you are Justine Sacco, this is your story.

Justine Sacco’s original tweet, which has since been deleted.

Before the Twitterstorm, Justine Sacco was a PR executive for InterActive Corporation (IAC). Her job involved helping major companies, like College Humor and Match.com, with public reactions work. She was only 30 years old and had one of the greatest jobs of all time. While she worked in New York, her father was living in South Africa. Justine decided to visit her family during the holiday season. Sacco has made questionable tweets before, but none of them has landed her in trouble before. Some include “I had a sex dream about an autistic kid last night. #fml” and “I can’t be fired for things I say while intoxicated right?”

One of Justine Sacco’s followers was finally shocked to see the offensive tweet. The follower sent the tweet to a Gawker journalist with 15,000 followers. The journalist, Sam Biddle, retweeted the offensive comment. Thus, a Twitterstorm was born. Buzzfeed first shared the tweet to millions of people. Soon, The NYTimes, Daily Mail, ABCNews, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Washington Post, and more were writing about the story.

During the Twitterstorm, when people Googled her name, British Airways Flight 43’s flight tracker appeared. This was the exact flight that Justine Sacco was on. Many people were tracking Justine’s arrival time. Since Justine had an 11-hour flight with no wifi, people knew she did not realize the fiasco she created. The people of Twitter were anxiously waiting to see what Justine would do after her realization that her racist tweet went viral. Because of the long wait, people began tweeting #HasJustineLandedYet, which was the exact hashtag that trended number one, worldwide.

A map showing where Justine’s tweet became the most viral.

The people of South Africa began boycotting Justine’s arrival. Many people wanted Justine to be sent on a flight back home. Others were tweeting InterActive Corp. to fire Justine. Others were trying to spread awareness to the issue of AIDs. Most people were tweeting to Justine about her ignorance on the issue. Justine is the white woman in the header. What is most upsetting about her tweet, is how she knows how lucky she is to be white. While AIDs can affect many kinds of people, it mostly affects people in Africa. Instead of Justine realizing how lucky she is to be a white woman in America, she mocks those who are less fortunate than her. This is why her tweet went viral, people were upset about how ungrateful she was to be living an AIDs free life.

Once Justine Sacco landed and discovered everything, she did not issue an apology. Instead, she began to delete her Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. Days later, she finally apologized but it was too late to say sorry for her racist tweet.

Justine Sacco explained herself years later to the journalist. In his book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed, Ronson shares what Justine meant with her tweet. She explained to Jon Ronson, “Living in America puts us in a bit of a bubble when it comes to what is going on in the Third World. I was making fun of that bubble.” If this was true, that does not explain her previous racist tweets that are down below. Her previous racist tweets do not “make fun of that bubble” in any way.

Other racist tweets that Justine tweeted the night before her AIDs tweet.

An African man named Zac was at the airport where Justine Sacco landed. He was able to find her father and explain the tweet to him. Justine’s father explained that Justine was born in South Africa, but in 1994, he moved the family to New York so that they would not witness the racism at the time. South Africa's apartheid regime ended in 1994, but there was still a major issue of white Africans murdering black Africans for superiority. Justine’s father told Zac that he disapproved of Justine’s tweet and called her an “idiot.” You can see Zac’s tweets below.

Zac’s tweets about Justine’s father’s comments.

Justine Sacco’s company said “This is an outrageous, offensive comment. The employee in question currently unreachable on an into flight.” IAC then revealed to firing her during her flight to Africa. Other major companies and celebrities began tweeting about Justine’s racist tweet. Gogo is an airline that provides wireless internet access. Gogo’s tweet became very popular during the Twitterstorm. Also, Donald Trump (not president at the time) made a “You’re Fired” joke about her. Also, Kerry Washington and Steve Martin made their own jokes on Justine’s tweet.

One of the greatest things to come out of this racist tweet was donations. That night, in disgust of Justine Sacco’s racist tweet, people began to donate to organizations like Care Org., ONE Campaign, and Aid for Africa. These organizations help victims of AIDs in Africa. Aid for Africa even bought the url “www.justinesacco.com” to help create PR for their charity.

The website for “www.justinesacco.com” where you can donate to help victims of AIDs in Africa.

More stories here:

Gilbert Gottfried Fired

Adria Richards Fired

Miley Cyrus gets Brother Fired

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Content Inspiration

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week

Meet the creators making their voices heard on Odyssey.

39
Top 3 Response Articles of This Week
Why I Write On Odyssey

At Odyssey, we're on a mission to encourage constructive discourse on the Internet. That's why we created the response button you can find at the bottom of every article.

Last week, our response writers sparked some great conversations right here on our homepage. Here are the top three response articles:

Keep Reading... Show less
Pexels

As the holiday season draws nearer, many of us find ourselves drawn to the same old Rankin-Bass Christmas specials and the perennial favorite, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." However, I would like to suggest an overlooked alternative, "Arthur's Perfect Christmas." It is a heartfelt, funny, and surprisingly inclusive Christmas special that deserves more recognition.

Keep Reading... Show less
Reclaim Your Weekends From The 'Sunday Scaries' With 'Self-Love Sundays' Instead
Olivia DeLucia

Laid back and taking it easy — sometimes that is the motto we all need after a busy week. Sunday scaries? Yes, they are valid – but you know what else is? A Sunday full of self-love. A lazy Sunday spent doing what you feel needs to be done to ease into the next week. Self-Love Sundays are a guilty pleasure that isn't only essential for our mind, and body, but are also a surprisingly proactive way to devote the upcoming week with a clear mindset.

So, what is a more suitable way to dedicate your week's end than a beautifully, connected playlist to accompany your face masks and journaling? Cheers, to a Self-Love Sunday (and a playlist intertwined with it to match). (Please note: "Sunday Morning" isn't included in this list, due to the obvious, but feel free to blast it anyway, we know you want to).

Keep Reading... Show less
Sunset Girl

The sun rose and peeked through the sheer curtains. Rose’s alarm shrieked. The loud bells caused her phone to jump on the side table. It was time for her to get ready for church. Blindly reaching for her phone, she shut the alarm off and pulled at the covers providing her a cocoon of warmth and tossed them to the side. She swept her bare feet across the bed to touch the cool wooden floor.

Rose softly tiptoed to the corner of the bedroom to grab her clothes dangling on the arm of the bedroom chair. Scooping all of the items of her chosen outfit, she headed to the bathroom hoping that she wouldn’t drop anything.

Round, piercing blue eyes stared back at her in the bathroom mirror. Rose fingered the wrinkles forming around her eyes. So many of them bore signs of laughter and smiling. Slowly dropping her hands, she couldn’t remember the last time she laughed in her home with Tom. Shaking her head as if to erase the negative thoughts, she reached for her makeup bag and went through her regular routine.

Applying her favorite deep rose lipstick, Rose headed downstairs to make her coffee and bagel to take with her to church. The smell of dark-roast coffee swirled in the air as Rose sliced her cinnamon raisin bagel. Hearing the Keurig sputter with the fresh brew, Rose found the interruption of the stillness comforting. The toaster signaled that her bagel was done with a soft pop. It had a delicious golden brown color. Placing the bagel on the counter, she generously spread honey nut flavored cream cheese across both halves. Gathering her bible, notebook, and pens from the side table on the porch she stuffed them into her purse. Purse hanging on her right shoulder she juggled her coffee and bagel in both of her hands as she headed to the garage.

Keep Reading... Show less
Environment

This Holiday Season, Choose To Be Eco-friendly And Reduce Pollution

Many of us have old magazines lying around, fully read and not of much use anymore. However, we can use their bright colors and prints as a stylish and trendy wrapping paper!

1398
Presents

It can be overwhelming to see the detrimental effects of climate change and pollution on the news, from animals dying and forest fires spreading, but there are smaller changes that we can all make to reduce our carbon footprint, and it begins with our gifting season.

On average, Americans throw 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Years, which translates to 25 million tons of garbage. That's 1 million extra tons per week.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments