Racist tweet rocks Twittersphere

2013-12-22 10:01

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The world’s most ­notorious ­Twitter user right now received death threats while cowering in a sea-facing Cape Town hotel ­yesterday – or did she?

New York-based communications executive Justine Sacco whipped social-media platforms into a frenzy by posting what some people have called the “worst tweet of the year”.

“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” she wrote before boarding a British Airways flight from London to Cape Town on Friday afternoon.

Her tweet caused a worldwide outcry that lasted the duration of her 11-hour flight, with #HasJustineLandedYet trending on Twitter while she languished in her first class seat.

All hell had broken loose by the time she arrived in South Africa.

She received death threats on Twitter, and both her account and the original tweet disappeared.

She also deleted her Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Then a new user, @JustineSacco6, popped up claiming to be Sacco herself. This was not verified, and tweets in which she claimed to have received personal messages from Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe raised some people’s suspicions.

@JustineSacco6 then tweeted that she had been fired from her job as communications director for InterActiveCorp.

“I still have to meet up with my dad. I’m so disappointed in ­myself,” @JustineSacco6 wrote.

“My family is done with me. I’m just alone in my hotel room with nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’m done. I’m shot. I’m finished.”

The user spent the rest of the day tweeting increasingly frantic apologies as the complaints poured in.

By yesterday afternoon, she was trying to make amends by offering her compliments to Cape Town.

“Just watching the sea from the balcony. Beautiful city!” she tweeted.

Then, in the late afternoon, things took a turn for the weirder:

“Okay ya’ll. I have a confession. I’m not Justine,” @JustineSacco6 tweeted. Then the account ­vanished.

The real Justine Sacco’s employer, which owns websites CollegeHumor, The Daily Beast and OkCupid, released a statement while she was still in the air: “This is an outrageous, offensive ­comment that does not reflect the views and values of ­InterActiveCorp.

“Unfortunately, the employee in question is unreachable on an ­international flight, but this is a very serious matter and we are taking appropriate action.”

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