The Times Square Ball Twitter account posted and then quickly deleted two tweets on New Year’s Eve that brought rapid condemnation from social media users.
First the account wrote, “The Ball this year has become racist due to the dismal state of our economy in 2015,” then “#BallLivesMatter.”
The #BallLivesMatter account was a riff on #BlackLivesMatter, a social media movement that has raised awareness of violence committed against young black people, often by white police officers. The movement was shortlisted for TIME’s Person of the Year in 2015.
It turns out this is not the first time the handle has used the hashtag #BallLivesMatter, but perhaps because the Times Square Ball is only in the spotlight once a year, these were the first tweets to spark significant controversy and to be deleted.
A spokesperson for New Year’s Eve in Times Square released a statement on Friday saying, “The Tweet was unacceptable and indefensible. As soon as event organizers became aware of it, it was removed immediately. The person responsible was an independent freelancer and will not be engaged again.”