#HasJustineLandedYet Hashtag #Crashtag

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Sometimes, when someone does or says something truly offensive and hateful, the world reacts in a way they only could in the 21st Century: They take to Twitter by the millions and use a hashtag.

#HasJustineLandedYet is still trending on Twitter even 24 hours after it began, which for Twitter is a very long time, and the stats are unbelievable. Millions of impressions are being generated and a National conversation was started.

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Justine Sacco, the Communications Director for IAC, which owns Match.com, About.com, and Vimeo, among others, tweeted a racist “joke” before boarding a plane for South Africa, and while she was airborne, the Twitterverse exploded in anger.

Justine Sacco's Tweet #HasJustineLandedYet

A search of the hashtag includes some very righteous indignation at Ms. Sacco’s Tweet and some truly vicious anger aimed in her direction as well.

Not surprisingly, her behavior was disavowed by her employers, and she has since been fired from her job.

A look back at her Twitter stream, before she deleted it, revealed many other questionable and inappropriate Tweets. The question is, why did this tweet spark such a firestorm? Sacco did not have a particularly large following. This tweet was sent ’round the world, but one wonders why earlier ones weren’t? Or why her employers hadn’t noticed.

Freedom of Expression is of course, alive and well and we are all entitled to it, and yet for a PR and Communications Director to not understand the impact of her own public speech seems to defy reality, especially in this day and age.

Reactions have not been unanimously angry at Sacco, however, and while no one is expressing approval of her Tweets, there are those calling for calm amidst what is essentially an angry, albeit virtual, mob. John Nolte, writing for Breitbart’s Big Journalism blog, is outraged that a single tweet should have the power to “destroy the life” of this woman.

“On a late-December Friday night, an online lynch-mob destroyed the reputation, career, and life of a young woman and private citizen, and did so without the benefit of the doubt or hearing her side of the story.”

Of course, what Mr Nolte does not acknowledge is that no one forced IAC to fire Ms. Sacco. It was their decision to make and the fact that they made it so quickly means they  understand well the power of social media and public opinion.

Still others are pointing out that, while they agree with the indignation and condemnation of this racist Tweet, they wonder where the outrage is for the still-unindicted Bankers who caused the Financial Crisis.

@AZ33MKHAN launched the hashtags #HasABankerBeenJailedYet and #AnyBankerAtAll to try and get some traction for his sentiment that there are others guilty of far worse than a Tweet.@AZ33MKHAN Tweet #HasJustineLandedYet

I’m not sure whether the Internet is capable of bringing Bankers to justice, but its power seems to grow every day.

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