Social media was rife at the weekend with reactions to the US killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, with World War III hashtags trending online on Friday and Saturday and users posting about fears of a US military draft.
The Friday airstrike, ordered by US President Donald Trump, sent Middle East tensions skyrocketing and sparked fears of an all-out war. Iranian officials vowed retribution for the killing, with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei promising to exact “harsh revenge.”
Trump on Saturday evening issued a stark threat to Iran on Twitter, saying that the US had targeted dozens of Iranian sites for strikes in the event of a reprisal.
Hashtags including #WWIII, #WorldWar3 and #WorldWarThreeDraft were trending on Twitter and other platforms, generating hundreds of thousands of mentions.
— hatichi (@ahmadzadahatif) January 3, 2020
— Big Chief Honeypot.✭ (@All_Cake88) January 3, 2020
Jan 1st: New decade going fairly well, all things considered.
Jan 2nd: Australia appears to be on fire.
Jan 3rd: World War III announced.
— Have I Got News For You (@haveigotnews) January 3, 2020
— kc (@frofrosagginsxx) January 3, 2020
Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand, named for the archduke whose 1914 assassination sparked World War I, tweeted that it thinks another world war would be “a bad idea” after its name also started trending online.
For the record, we think #WWIII is a bad idea.
— Franz Ferdinand (@Franz_Ferdinand) January 3, 2020
The possibility of a US military draft also generated thousands of mentions. There have been no official statements indicating that a draft is in the making, and the last US conscription took place in 1973 during the Vietnam War.
The US Selective Service, which maintains lists of potential draft recruits, on Friday sought to calm fears amid rumors of a draft, writing on Twitter that it was “conducting business as usual.” The agency said its website was struggling under “high traffic volumes” due to “the spread of misinformation.”
Due to the spread of misinformation, our website is experiencing high traffic volumes at this time. If you are attempting to register or verify registration, please check back later today as we are working to resolve this issue. We appreciate your patience.
— Selective Service (@SSS_gov) January 3, 2020
Users posted memes about being imprisoned for refusing a military draft, or being exempted for medical reasons.
— Jack Cammarato (@CammaratoJack) January 3, 2020
Me meeting my homies in prison after we all refused the draft for WWIII https://t.co/VmV2gbbgT2
— Brad???? 7-3 ???? (@b_rad2k1) January 3, 2020
Everyone with asthma who can’t be drafted for World War III https://t.co/MrKQpTIYEd
— joey ???? (@ZovkoJoey) January 3, 2020
Trump and Soleimani themselves have posted memes about the US-Iran conflict in the past. Soleimani’s popular Instagram account was suspended in April.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2018
Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (#IRGC) #Quds Force Major General Qassem Soleimani responded to #US President Donald Trump’s announcement that ‘sanctions are coming’ with a Game of Thrones-inspired meme of his ownhttps://t.co/336UFrTL8E pic.twitter.com/5uh1qtQPMB
— Tasnim News Agency (@Tasnimnews_EN) November 3, 2018
New CJL Report: IRGC Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, Designated By U.S. Treasury Dept., Is Active On Instagram; Posts Include Image Of White House Exploding https://t.co/9jP83VDsQ5 pic.twitter.com/ui8WA2is6z
— Steve Stalinsky (@SteveStalinsky) August 17, 2018