How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco's Life

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The essay highlights occasions when real people have been targeted for public humiliation. Ronson guides readers through incidents that led to varied responses of people to the issues. Any of the problems resulted from the misinterpretation of the presented claims. The essay highlights the case of Justine Sacco, whose tweet seems not only offensive but also racist to the rest of the public. In addition, Ronson notes the experiences of the victims of humiliation when analyzing their lives after the incidents have taken place. The impacts of the events include job loss, stigmatization by family and friends, name tarnishing, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ronson considers past cases of Massachusetts Archives regarding public shaming in explicating on the actions of the online mob. Ronson further highlights Sacco's scenario where victims of public humiliation develop a negative attitude towards anything meant to put people in the spotlight.


Tweeter is among the most used social media platforms. Tweeting a poorly considered joke, however, may be risky and subject users to the horror of shame campaigns. An example is an incidence when Sacco sent a funny tweet to her 170 followers before boarding an 11-hour flight to South Africa from New York. At the time she arrived, Sacco realized her post was a trending topic that attracted mixed reactions from the audience with amusement for some and outrage for others. The difference in the intention of her message and peoples' reaction towards it implies the existence of a problem of proportionality. It is valuable to have a set of norms that ensure individuals are responsible for their actions. Many users, however, have abused social media. Sacco's tweet Going to Africa. Hope I do not get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white! attracted mixed feelings among followers in her Twitter account. Critics referred to the tweet as racist. They termed it outrageous and offensive. In another instance, A. A. Gill tweeted about an experience killing a baboon while visiting Tanzania. Similar to Sacco, Gill was a victim of shame campaigns on tweeter. Besides, Lindsey Stone experienced similar humiliation after posting a comment while making a joke about as sign of the war dead on Facebook. She lost her position at work after other Facebook users denounced her. Based on the cases highlighted, it is imperative to review the use of social media. Every tweet or comment on Facebook may elicit a serious shame campaign from users and affect the victim.


I believe individuals who are most to blame for the actions are the online users. As much as people should be accountable for their actions, other people should make comments with compassion. The victims of shame campaign should have the chance to defend the contexts of their comments other users make assumptions about them or call for their immediate resignation. In the article, Sacco did not expect the audience to interpret the literal meaning of her post. In her perspective, she was making fun of the bubble that the Americans live in without any knowledge of what goes on in third world countries. Obviously, the society is obsessed with the utilization of online sites as places of humiliation without being compassionate towards the people they are attacking. In ancient offices, such comments would similarly prompt the manager to advise the offender to stop uttering such statements. Making similar comments today can result in fierce reactions. The present situation makes users endure unimaginable torture for small mistakes. This type of public shaming can have destructive and constructive implications. The destructive implication would be the brutal pillory and emotional toll the offenders incur for their transgressions. The constructive implication would be discouraging online users from posting insensitive and racist comments.

Works Cited

Ronson, Jon. How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco's Life. New York Times, (Feb 12, 2015). Accessed July 3, 2017 from

October 13, 2022

Learning Communication

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