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Sara Swann
By Sara Swann September 20, 2023

Don’t believe the social media circus. A clown attack didn’t happen in Paris.

If Your Time is short

  • This video is not recent and isn’t related to clowns. It’s from a 2015 news broadcast. It shows a crowd in Paris that began running because of a potential gun threat, which turned out to be a false alarm. Clowns were neither involved nor pictured.

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Years after false reports of clown attacks flooded social media, new claims say the bad buffoons are back.

A Sept. 9 Facebook reel shows a TV reporter doing a live broadcast when the crowd behind him suddenly starts running.

"There’s something going on here. People are running," the reporter says as he moves out of the shot and the camera pans over hundreds of panicked people running.

Text on the video reads, "Report of clown attack in Paris April 30, 2023. The clowns are back."

Similar videos have been shared on TikTok.

The Facebook post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

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But this video is not recent, and clowns did not panic the crowd.

The footage is from a November 2015 broadcast by Channel 4 News, a British TV station. The reporter in the video, Matt Frei, was doing a live broadcast when people gathered in Paris’s Place de République began running because of a potential gun threat. Police later determined it was a false alarm.

We searched for credible news reports of recent clown attacks in Paris and found none.

Screengrab from Facebook

The clown hysteria began in 2016 with unsubstantiated reports of clowns trying to lure children into the woods in Greenville, South Carolina. Soon after, numerous reports of similar creepy clown sightings popped up across the country — most of which were hoaxes or pranks.

We rate the claim that a video shows an April 2023 clown attack in Paris False.

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More by Sara Swann

Don’t believe the social media circus. A clown attack didn’t happen in Paris.

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