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Grace Abels
By Grace Abels May 16, 2024

Don’t get clowned! Apple isn’t getting rid of the clown emoji. That headline is fake.

If Your Time is short

  • The image shows a fake headline. 

  • There are no authentic reports that Apple plans to remove the clown emoji. 

It’s not unusual to be afraid of clowns — but are Apple executives so scared they are getting rid of the clown emoji?

According to a screenshot of a CNBC headline shared May 15 on X, "Upcoming Apple device update set to remove clown emoji: sources say emoji used as a Far-Right ‘dog whistle.’"

(Screenshot from X post)

But this headline is fake.

The image appears to be an edited screenshot of a real CNBC story about McDonald’s. The author and time stamp match, but the original headline was replaced. A CNBC spokesperson confirmed to PolitiFact that the article about the clown emoji was never published on

The first iteration of the altered image appears to have been shared at 3:27pm on May 15 on, a pro-Donald Trump message board. Then it was shared by conservative X account DC_Draino, which later deleted the post. The false headline sparked real outrage from many X users at Apple.

The clown emoji is frequently used to express humor or self-deprecation or to mock other people online. But it is not considered a hate symbol, such as those tracked in an Anti-Defamation League database.

Apple has changed emojis before, most famously swapping out the black pistol emoji for a green squirt gun in 2016. But we found no authentic reporting that Apple plans to get rid of the clown emoji on their devices.

CNBC never reported that Apple is "set to remove clown emoji" because it is a "far-right dog-whistle." The image of the headline was digitally altered. We rate this viral image Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Email interview with CNBC spokesperson, May 16, 2024

X post, May 15, 2024

CNBC, "McDonald's $5 value meal is coming in June — and staying for just a month," May 15, 2024, "Archived post," archived May 16, 2024

PolitiFact, "No, NATO Allied Land Command leader wasn’t captured by Russians in Ukraine," April 5, 2022

PolitiFact, "No, viral images don’t show Joe Biden naked with a young girl," July 13, 2022

PolitiFact, "Fake mugshot showing badly bruised Paul Pelosi circulates online," June 14, 2022

X search, "clown emoji," accessed May 16, 2024

X profile, accessed May 16, 2024

Emojipedia, "Clown Face Emoji," accessed May 16, 2024

Anti-Defamation League, "Hate Symbols Database," accessed May 16, 2024

NPR, "Apple Ditches Pistol Emoji In Favor Of Water Gun," Aug. 2, 2016
Emojipedia, "First Look: New Emojis in iOS 17.4," Jan 25, 2024

Emojipedia, "iOS 17.4 Emoji Changelog," March 5, 2024

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Don’t get clowned! Apple isn’t getting rid of the clown emoji. That headline is fake.

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