NEW YORK: Former IAC senior corporate communications director Justine Sacco apologized on Sunday for a tweet mocking the AIDS crisis in Africa that sparked outrage in the media and on Twitter.
IAC parted ways with Sacco a day earlier.
“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 a statement sent to ABC News. “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.”
She also noted that her father is South African in the apology issued to ABC News.
The Internet firestorm began on Friday afternoon, shortly after a tweet was posted to Sacco's timeline reading, “Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white.” In the hours that followed, Sacco's Twitter account was deleted, but the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet and the @LOLJustineSacco parody account appeared on the network.
By late Friday afternoon, the message was retweeted nearly 900 times and favorited by more than 350 Twitter users.
IAC, which owns more than 150 brands and products such as Vimeo, OkCupid, Dictionary.com, The Daily Beast, and Urbanspoon, issued a statement on Saturday afternoon saying it had parted ways with Sacco.
“There is no excuse for the hateful statements that have been made, and we condemn them unequivocally,” the company said. “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.”
Sacco was not immediately reachable for comment via phone on Friday.
She joined IAC in September 2011 as director of corporate communications and was promoted to senior corporate communications director this July, according to her LinkedIn profile. Sacco was listed as director of corporate communications on IAC's website.
Prior to IAC, Sacco worked at WWE for nearly three years, first serving as a publicist for two years, then as manager of corporate communications and publicity, according to her LinkedIn profile. She also held roles at The Morris + King Company and DKC.