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Clown sightings most common at 11pm and near Walmart says Twitter data

Tim Curry starring in IT

Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, seems to be at an all-time high, as sightings of malevolent jesters seem to be springing up across the world – if isolated local and social media reports are to be believed.

Professional clowns have taken a severe PR hit, with some US police forces encouraging the public not to dress as clowns for their own safety.

It would be reasonable to assume that the incidents at least resemble a covert attempt at creating a viral marketing campaign for a movie (Blair Witch style). However, the studios behind upcoming clown horror flicks, the remake of Stephen King’s ‘It’ and the Rob Zombie’s independent chiller '31', have denied any involvement in the trend. Their sales will no doubt benefit from a newly-rejuvenated fear of clowns nonetheless.

Reports of clowns leading children into woods, malevolently occupying empty car parks and more seem to be on the rise, and social media analytics firm Brandwatch has studied Twitter data to pick out some of the trends around the sightings.

Between 1 September – 10 October the company mapped where supposed claims of clown sightings across North America using Twitter data. As is apparent, the sightings are highly dispersed, at least hinting that even if it was a misguided marketing stunt, the trend has likely found a life of its own.

The data found that the public was most likely to come across clowns at 11 pm (ET), perhaps explaining an absence of credible footage and imagery (it’s harder to capture good footage at night on mobile).

Walmart was one of the most commonly used phrases in these tweets, hinting at many sightings on the retail giant’s territory across the board, or that one or two sightings birthed a high volume of mentions.

Notable is the fact the company has marketed with scary clowns before however.

Got a theory? Pop it in the comments below.

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