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.
In the Tweet, subsequently deleted, Sacco jokes about not having to worry about contracting HIV in Africa because of the colour of her skin:
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.
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:
Social Media Rule #7: "If you're willing to put it on a billboard, you can post it" #hasjustinelandedyet