By Tia’Lavon Hill, Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local
The phrase “World War III,” started trending globally soon after the announcement that, the United States has killed Iran’s top general and second in command. Qassim Soleimani, was taken down in an airstrike early Friday morning, at Baghdad’s international airport. His car was struck on an access road near the airport, taking him down, along with eight others. President Donald Trump gave the order, after receiving intel that Soleimani was plotting attacks that could’ve harmed United States citizens, as well as military personnel. The surprising attack came after years of tension between the U.S. and Iran, which first began with Mr. Trump deciding to withdraw the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, back in May of 2018.
Tensions later escalated when Tehran shot down an American military surveillance drone, and seized oil tankers. Earlier this week, Mr. Trump also blamed Iran for a protest in Iraq, that resulted in demonstrators breaking into the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and setting it ablaze. The group eventually retreated from the United States embassy after 24 hours, but the real damage had already been done. Once the news broke, it traveled to the world of social media with the speed of light. Many people all over the world, took to Twitter to share their thoughts or concerns.
Twitter users amassed over 200,000 tweets regarding Soleimani’s assassination. The promise of harsh vengeance from the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also seemed to fuel fears of possibly going to war or even reviving the military draft. Following Soleimani’s death, Iran’s leader tweeted that “his (Soleimani’s) and other martyr’s blood, are on their evil hands.”He added that, “God willing, his work and his path will not be stopped.” Many of those tweeting about the bombing, turned to memes as a way to ease the tension of anticipating retaliation.
Google searches for World War 3 also spiked within hours of the overnight drone attack in Iraq. Although the “World War III” hashtag became quite popular in just a matter of hours, it did not, however take the top spot of Twitter trending topics. “Iran,” received over 2million mentions in tweets. Soleimani’s high ranking status grabbed the attention of Middle East experts, journalists, analysts, and everyone else in between. Google Trends recorded that “Iran” gained 500,000 searches for the topic, making it the second most searched term in the United States.
The record breaking searches, were most likely a result of people attempting to get caught up on what could’ve possibly led to the U.S. making such a major move, and who exactly was this top Iranian general? Many of the comments online may mock the pandemonium surrounding a ‘real’ world war, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are real fears of repercussion for the death of Soleimani. As events unfold in the following months, one thing that is for certain is that most of us will be watching and tweeting.