(@thefocusedphd) December 20, 2013
It was the (tasteless) joke heard around the Twitterverse, as a public relations professional managed to make an AIDS joke that some perceived as racist.
Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!—
Justine Sacco (@JustineSacco) December 20, 2013
It’s been retweeted nearly 4,000 times in 12 hours, and now it’s inspired a post on the New York Times website and its own hashtag, #HasJustineLandedYet, which trended high among Twitter’s trending topics Friday night.
It even inspired a NORAD-style tracker.
Sacco didn’t say where she was going to in Africa, but that hasn’t stopped Twitter from imagining her arrival at the terminal.
It appears Justine has landed, and deleted the tweet a bit before midnight Eastern.
And now the entire account is deleted.
Editor’s note: After publishing, we slightly altered the description of Ms. Sacco’s joke to more accurately characterize what she tweeted.
“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.
“For being insensitive to this crisis — which does not discriminate by race, gender or sexual orientation, but which terrifies us all uniformly — and to the millions of people living with the virus, I am ashamed.
“This is my father’s country, and I was born here. I cherish my ties to South Africa and my frequent visits, but I am in anguish knowing that my remarks have caused pain to so many people here; my family, friends and fellow South Africans. I am very sorry for the pain I caused.”