After Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated while giving a speech at an art exhibition in Ankara on Monday, many people on social media compared the moment — and what could result from it — to a similar event that happened more than a century ago: the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, which most historians cite as the beginning of World War I.
Ferdinand, of the Austria-Hungary empire, was in Sarajevo with his wife. They were sitting in a car when a Serbian nationalist shot them, killing them both. Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbian government and declared war, which ultimately pitted Serbia and its allies, including Russia, France, and Great Britain, against Austria-Hungary and Germany.
According to a Vocativ analysis, in the hour after Karlov's murder, "world war" was tweeted 3,532 times, while "ww3" or "wwIII" was tweeted 3,423 times. "Ferdinand" was tweeted 4,238 times. Before the shooting, "Ferdinand" was tweeted just 144 times. By press time, "world war" had been tweeted more than 13,500 times on Monday.
Most of the tweets compared Karlov's murder to the Archduke's, and expressed fear that it could start WWIII.
Russian ambassador to Turkey murdered by a Turkish police officer. I really, really hope this isn't an Archduke Franz Ferdinand moment.
— Secular Talk (@KyleKulinski) December 19, 2016
— Graham Jevon (@GJHistory) December 19, 2016
World War 3 trending. Looks like 2016's planning quite the finale.
— Dimitri Debonaire #YouShouldHave #VotedLabour (@Damien_Deluxe) December 19, 2016
The similarities, of course, are far from exact: A story on the site Slate said that while the "parallels are tempting," it was "especially unlikely" that Karlov's assassination would spark a war between Russia and Turkey that would encompass the rest of the world. Rather, Joshua Keating wrote, it "will provide a pretext for closer cooperation rather than conflict."
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