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Social media storm

#HasJustineLandedYet: Racist tweet sparks online outrage

When Justine Sacco sent out a tweet about her impending trip to Africa just prior to her flight from Heathrow taking off, she may have thought she was being cheeky or risqué. It’s unlikely however that she expected to kick off an international bout of Twitter outrage.

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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In the Tweet, subsequently deleted, Sacco jokes about not having to worry about contracting HIV in Africa because of the colour of her skin:

HasJustineLanded yet

The tweet immediately provoked anger across the Twittersphere. Sacco, who is a PR executive at media giant InterActiveCorp (better known as IAC) was, of course, unaware that any of this was happening given that she was in the air. The situation led to the spawning of the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet


It appears that in the face of the reaction, Sacco’s Twitter account was indeed deleted.

Before that could happen though, members of the online community had managed to find a few choice examples of Sacco’s other tweets, which included missives about one of her fellow first class passengers’ body odour and dreams of sexual encounters with autistic people.

Unlike many Twitter storms however, a glimmer of hope appears to be emerging from this one.

Someone has registered the domain name justinesacco.com and has redirected it to the Aid for Africa donations page.


Other tweeters meanwhile have encouraged their followers to donate to South African-based non-profits such as the Treatment Action Campaign, which deals predominantly with issues around HIV and Aids.



Others still chastened Twitter users for the kind of mob mentality they displayed in the wake of the incident:


Interestingly, it appears that Sacco only had around 400 followers prior to her account being deleted. While it’s unusual for someone so low-profile to cause an international Twitter storm of this magnitude, it is a pertinent reminder of how quickly something can spread on the social network.

As a number of people noted, it’s also a potent reminder of why everyone should watch what they post on the social network:


  • http://MartijnVreugde.com/ Martijn Vreugde

    So do we have any reporters in Cape Town to talk to Justine? you know before she is fired…

  • Pashito

    How that dude knows she is sorry would be interesting to find out. However, being sorry isn’t enough. She’s probably sorry for displaying and getting caught out for her racism and ignorance. She needs to get educated and atone, big time. 200 hours of community work with Julius Malema might be a good start.

  • Pingback: Five things Justine Sacco’s tweet taught us about the internet | memeburn()