Old footage of panicking crowds does not show a current wave of ‘killer clown’ attacks

By: Nikolaj Kristensen
May 10 2023

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Old footage of panicking crowds does not show a current wave of ‘killer clown’ attacks


The Verdict False

Videos purportedly showing recent attacks by killer clowns are all old and not in fact clown attacks.

Claim ID e9ea1bc5


A number of videos are circulating on TikTok claiming to show a recent wave of attacks by killer clowns. Many of the videos show crowds running, accompanied by ominous background music and titles like “They’re back April 2023” or “Clown attack April 27 2023.” But the clips are old and, apart from news reports of a 2016 clown craze, have nothing to do with clowns.

In Fact

In the fall of 2016, a craze of dressing up in clown costumes and scaring people spread around the globe after children in Greenville, South Carolina, told local law enforcement that a group of clowns had tried to lure them into a nearby wood. Clown sightings were reported in Canada, the U.K., Australia, Denmark, and Sweden, among other places. However, the recent videos on TikTok are unrelated to the original “killer clown” craze.

One recent video with 22.7m views allegedly shows footage from a clown attack at a high school in Ohio on April 1. However, research shows that the clips were originally posted on the YouTube channel of a Michigan high school in 2014 as what appears to be a dramatized instructional video of how to conduct an internal lockdown in case of a school shooting.

Another video, also supposedly showing a clown attack in Ohio on April 1, actually shows the evacuation of Highlands High School in San Antonio following a reported bomb threat in December 2013.

Two videos of running crowds both claim to depict clown attacks on the New York City Subway. What the first one actually shows is 2017 footage from New York's Penn Station, where a crowd fled after a man was tasered by the police. The second one uses footage from a shooting in the New York City subway in April of last year. Ten people were shot, none fatally. The shooter, Frank James, was not wearing a clown costume during the shooting.

Another couple of videos claim to show an attack in Paris happening on either April 29 or April 30. In the videos, a news report is cut short as the crowds behind the reporter start to run screaming. Though the location is correct, this clip is a Channel 4 News report from November 15, 2015, where crowds ran from a Paris square after believing that someone had been shot. Two days earlier, the city had been rocked by terror attacks that saw 137 people killed and several hundred more injured. Neither incident was related to clowns.

One TikTok account has consistently been posting these videos of supposed clown attacks since the fall of 2021. In an early post captioned “THE CLOWNS ARE BACK 2021,” a news reporter tells of multiple clown sightings. The news clip originally aired on CBS on October 3, 2016.

The videos do not depict clowns or clown sightings; they are all from serious situations including shootings, terrorist attacks, and bomb threats, which have then been misrepresented to falsely claim that killer clown attacks from 2016 have returned.

The Verdict

None of the videos allegedly showing recent killer clown attacks were recorded within the last year, with some being 10 years old. Apart from news reports of the 2016 clown craze, none of the videos have any relation to clowns. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before