Fight for facts over World War III Memes

Read the news before using social media to create memes that propagate false information.


Lara Cayci

By spreading false fears, social media users created an irrational panic that spread misinformation to other users.

Martha Sanchez, RubicOnline

With President Trump’s recent decision to kill Iranian leader and military director Qasem Soleimani came a social media panic. 

The killing caused two days of nervous tensions with the U.S. unsure of how Iran would choose to retaliate. Millions of young citizens took to social media to worry about an impending “World War III.” The Selective Service Website temporarily crashed due to the number of site visits it got in the days after the killing. It was clear that young Americans across the nation, whether joking or not, appeared to be concerned about an impending war. 

But while the social media memes may have emerged as a way to cope with the uncertainty of the nation’s future, they did more bad than good. Historically, social media has been a source of spreading false information. Much too often young users spend too much time on social media than reading the actual news, a habit that can lead them to only believe what they read online. 

The spread of a “World War III” panic across platforms like Instagram, Twitter and TikTok was a direct spread of misinformation. News platforms such as CNN and the New York Times urged that an all out war was unlikely as neither country wanted that outcome. Furthermore, the panic about being drafted was unsubstantiated as well. In order for a draft to occur, Congress would need to pass a new law and and the President would need to approve it. Both of these actions are unlikely because they would need broad political support. By both spreading fear of “World War III” and a possible draft, young people across social media who do not regularly consume news sources were bombarded by irrational fears and unsubstantiated claims. 

To them, the memes were not funny. 

By spreading false fears, social media users created an irrational panic that spread misinformation to other users. Furthermore, the memes only served to further escalate tensions between the Middle Eastern and American users. Some Iranians lamented that Americans were making fun of a situation that for them was not a joking matter. To them, the memes were not funny. 

The “World War III” memes are yet another example of how young people are not respecting valid news sources by taking information out of context and spreading false information through social media. Do not be a part of that group. Read the real news and advocate for truth and facts instead of falsities and exaggerations.