An American PR executive lost her job during a long-haul flight after she sent an offensive tweet shortly before take-off.
Justine Sacco, 30, made a racist joke about AIDS in Africa while waiting to leave London for Cape Town but media firm IAC announced they they had "parted ways" even before she had landed in South Africa.
Her tweet read:
Her former employer, which runs brands including Vimeo, Match.com and College Humour, released this statement on Saturday while Sacco was in mid-air without an internet connection:
Meanwhile growing pressure from outraged Twitter users meant the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet featured near the top of the site's trending topics.
The domain justinesacco.com was registered and directed visitors to an African HIV charity:
Others joined in with Sacco-related animations and Photoshopped film posters referencing her imminent demise.
Sacco, head of global corporate communications at IAC before she took off, learned of her dismissal after she landed in South Africa.
She tweeted an apology before swiftly deleting her @justinesacco account entirely.
"The offensive comment does not reflect the views and values of IAC. We take this issue very seriously, and we have parted ways with the employee in question," an updated IAC statement read.
Her case highlights the potential pace and scale of what is often called a "Twitterstorm".
With only 500 followers at the time, her offensive remarks were widely retweeted, sparked articles on websites including Buzzfeed, BBC News and Gawker, drew global internet attention to her social media profile and resulted in her sacking just hours after sending her tweet.
Sacco subsequently released the following statement to American and South African news outlets: