The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) tracked clowns on social media websites in response to threats against DC schools in 2016, The Guardian reported based on recently hacked police data.
The documents are part of a trove of DC police records stolen and released in April by the Russian-speaking Babuk group, which infiltrated the department’s network via a ransomware attack. The Guardian says it obtained the documents from the transparency organization Distributed Denial of Secrets that redistributed them.
The hacker group posted the 250 GB of stolen data on its website on the dark web, after rejecting MPD’s alleged offer to pay $100,000 in ransom to prevent the release. The Babuk group claimed they demanded $4 million.
Under “Social Media Clown Threats” dated October 2016, MPD listed a number of measures taken against “threats coming from accounts created by unknown persons with profile pictures of clowns” on social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, according to The Guardian.
Through the effort, the police department aimed at identifying individuals who may be responsible for the incidents and online threats that sparked worry among the public due to intense media coverage.
DC police identified “threats coming from accounts created by unknown persons with profiled pictures of clowns” on social media, including the ones with user names like @snappytheclown_ on Instagram, which shared a photo of two men dressed as sinister clowns, mentioned “humanity’s annihilation,” and “Cardozo and Bell,” possibly referring to Cardozo Education Campus and Bell Multicultural High School, both located in Northwest DC.
Another user name considered to be a threat by DC police was “killerclownamber” on Facebook.
The report also includes MPD’s efforts to get warrants to obtain account information on some clown accounts on Instagram and @joetheclown deleted by Twitter.
The “clown craze” made headlines in 2016 after sightings of evil clowns were reported near schools and forests across the country, as well as Canada and some other countries. The phenomenon started in Green Bay, Wisconsin in August of that year.
Many police departments and schools took precautions to tackle the threat at the time.