Apparently, creepy clowns are a real threat to our way of life. An Alabama high school was put on a “soft lockdown” after messages circulated on social media that clowns might be coming to the school. From AL.com:

Another Alabama school is on lockdown today after a social media post warned “clowns” might show up at Shades Valley High School on Monday.

Irondale police Officer James Lewis, a school resource officer, said a student reported to police that a Facebook post hinted at the possibility of clowns showing up on campus. “There was no threat,” Lewis said.

Similar incidents have taken place throughout Alabama, including Flomaton, Etowah County and Montgomery, and across the southeast. In some instances, children have reported clowns trying to lure them into the woods. In other cases, victims have been messaged by the so-called clowns with vulgar language.

It’s hard to take this situation seriously because it’s obviously some kind of social media panic set off by a bunch of 15-year-olds. At least that’s what I assumed at first. But actually, while it seems all of this was being done as a kind of sick joke, the threats themselves were serious enough to legitimately cause concern. One Facebook page called “Flomo Klown” posted these messages last week and later deleted them:

clowns

Anytime someone suggests they could be planning an attack on a local school, that’s a real threat that needs to be taken seriously. AL.com reports what happened next:

On Thursday morning the Flomaton Police Department received what law enforcement officers believed to be credible threats to students at Flomaton High School through a Facebook account. The school was put on lock down for several hours as 30 law enforcement officials made a sweep of the campus looking for any possible threats…

The investigation determined that two juveniles and one adult were found to be involved with the incident. One of the juveniles who resides in Florida was discovered to have involvement with the incident.

Investigators determined that none of the juveniles or adults had any affiliation or were currently attending the public school systems in Escambia County.

So it seems all of this was being done for the LULZ, but there was no way for police to be sure of that until they checked it out. ‘Clowns are coming!’ is a silly reason to shut down a high school but ‘unidentified people on Facebook posted a message suggesting a school shooting was about to happen’ is no joke. Irondale police Det. Sgt. Michael Mangina told AL.com, “In today’s climate, we’re better safe than sorry.”

Apparently all of this is built upon a string of clown-related scare stories that have been circulating online, especially in the south. AL.com put together this video about the stories:

Clowns are certainly creepy but this isn’t the first time the internet has been used to circulate scary stories about a boogeyman threatening children. A couple years online interest in the “Slender Man” became so intense that ABC did this report on it: