Racist Tweet Lands PR Bigwig In Vat of Hot Water

IAC publicity executive's tweet showcases worst practices

Facebook/Justine Sacco
There are two rules for any employee with a personal account on Twitter: 1) the boss can likely see what you're doing, and 2), acting in a controversial manner could get you in trouble or axed. It's pretty simple, as food workers, teachers, and others have found.

You'd think that people in public relations would be among the first to recognize the potential problems. After all, they get paid to manage the public image of celebrities and corporations. They've seen all the mistakes and dangers dozens of times and regularly have to tell people what not to do. But sometimes the people who should know best don't seem to when it comes to their own actions. At least, that allegedly seems to be the case for Justine Sacco, whose LinkedIn profile shows her position as senior director of corporate communications at IAC.

In case the company name doesn't ring a bell, IAC is one of the biggest holders of Internet media brands there is. Its properties include Match.com, Vimeo, About.com, OKCupid, The Daily Beast, and CollegeHumor. IAC claims a combined 1.1 billion monthly visits across more than 150 brands and products. This is big media where reputation means a lot. Savvy communications people are careful about what they say and how they say it, particularly in a forum that can connect them to their employer or a client.

So you might understand the raised eyebrows and online shock when Sacco's own account carried the following tweet on Friday:

Some responses included, "Is this a parody account?" and "Are you stupid?" One particularly sharp comment, according to ValleyWag, came from her employer:

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.

That doesn't sound good. Now, to be fair, it could be that someone hacked into Sacco's account and put some words in her mouth, although Twitter indicated that the tweet came from London's Hillingdon borough, the location of Heathrow airport, a major connection for international flights. Here are a couple of other tweets that came at around the same time:

And it's not as though Sacco's account never showed signs of snark tweets in the past. Here's one from November 26:

Or one from November 23, apparently as she sat with a large dinner party at a restaurant:

Or this one from November 4:

Does the latest tweet seem completely out of character? That is for others -- including her immediate superiors -- to decide. One thing is for certain: No matter how bad the landing might seem, it will be nothing compared to the first phone call she gets when she can turn her cell phone on again.

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DaQuita Jackson

Guess I'm getting tired of all these weirdo's & socially depressed oppressed people.Life was better before all these Frag a Nag phones,tablets,reality shows....Now look at our world. In the preHuman/ Civilized days when you could tell boy from girl &Good from Bad. All we had was Racism, Womens Lib, &obesity Damb take me back I'll gladly go back & try it again if it means I can get the hell away from all the "Y" sexuals, cry babies,weirdo's, Turn Uppers, serial killers n da makins,wimps,& yes the Pimps (Government @ it's Finest)....I feel for this generation you all are dying of "Thirst"

December 31 2013 at 12:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DaQuita Jackson

Get off the Gas! She doesn't have a problem you do. Your all up in her Jerry Springer she probably doesn't know you or they exist! Freedom of speech if you don't like it do yourself a favor don't read it! She's not talking to you, you want to hear what she has to say. Lord Vamp me back into the interaction generation (yes A) because people now of days are tooo damb touchy. If you don't like it put it dwn,turn it off,go to sleep,work. Hell your not paying for the internet your paying to complain....who cares hell I'm black and a woman and a criminal and a college grad and a fed grad, and an *******...so what if your mad don't like it post your rude comment and keep it moving. Matter of fact get Real get off the phone and find a real person and make a Real friend who thinks like your retarded a$$. After all your peeping in on her.FYI don't you think something is wrong with all this media interaction anyway....Social Freaks mad about everything and yes sometimes I'm racist,bias,homophobic...& everything else tooo! & your a liar if you say your not sometimes tooo! FB that!

December 30 2013 at 11:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael Faust

Uh, AOL, are you intentionally trying to miss the mark with this article

It doesnt appear to be humor? Although she is quite humorous, I would definitely throw back a Guiness with her.

December 22 2013 at 7:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael Faust

I like her style, call it like it is. They are meant to be funny, I see no measure of racism. Reality is not racism.

December 22 2013 at 7:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't find any of her comments racist ... didn't the aids virus originate in Africa???whats offensive about that ?? If anything i find her tweets annoying...she seems to hold her opinion and views on society in high regard needs to post pics of her in bra or bare breasts!!

December 22 2013 at 3:40 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I think she is funny. She is entitled to her opinion as much as welfare queens are entitled to sit at home and smoke pot with their 8 baby daddies.

December 22 2013 at 1:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to M's comment

You're just as abysmally stupid as she is. Congratulations for winning The Dummy Award!

December 22 2013 at 6:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow, get a life you corporate douche bags. This lady is hilarious.

December 22 2013 at 10:38 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jim Woodward

only the most abjectly stupid would think that there is anything offensive about ANY of those tweets, especially the one the article refers to

December 22 2013 at 8:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chuck Curry

Right, because AIDS is such a problem among White Africans.

December 22 2013 at 1:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tommy Barrios

The only thing I find outrageous is the hypocritical feigned outrage posting purporting to be the IAC !
Snot gobbling PC sycophants should not be allowed near a computer hooked to the world wide web ;-)

December 21 2013 at 8:25 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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