by Jeff Thomas
For quite some time, we have been predicting that the Russians and Chinese will, at some point, bring an end to the petrodollar system that has virtually guaranteed the US the position of having its currency be the world’s default currency. This position has allowed the US, in recent decades, to go on a borrowing and currency-printing spree, the likes of which the world has never seen.
First, a Little History
It’s important that we back up a bit here to have a look at how this came about in the first instance.
In 1971, the US government, under Richard Nixon, took the US off the gold standard. This meant that, from that point on, the dollar was backed by nothing. However, as long as the dollar was accepted as legitimate currency (even though it was now mere paper), not only could the game continue as before, but the US would then be free to print as much “currency” as it wished. It would also be free to borrow as much as it wished, thereby building as large an economic house of cards as it wished.
Of course, the foolhardiness of this decision would not be immediately clear to all and sundry. It would take some time before the chickens would come home to roost.
Enter the Petrodollar
Back in 1971, it was necessary to assure that the dollar would retain its position in world trade as the world’s premiere currency, in spite of the fact that it was no longer backed by anything. The US reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia that, in trade for arms and protection, the Saudis would denominate all future oil sales, worldwide, in dollars. The other OPEC countries fell into line, and the “petrodollar” was assured.
Returning to the present, we have stated for some time that the methods by which the US, the Russians, and the Chinese have been playing the game have been very different. The Chinese, for over 4000 years, have played the game of wéiqí, and the wéiqí philosophy is a primary part of Chinese philosophy. The idea is to distract your opponent whilst you subtly surround him. Once he is enclosed, with no support from outside, it’s game over.
By contrast, the Russians are perennial chess players. Chess, played correctly, involves the concept of imagining each move that your opponent may possibly make. For each possible move, you imagine each possible move you could make and how your opponent might retaliate. You then select your best move. A good chess player is one who has learned to imagine several moves in advance. Therefore, once your opponent makes his move, you are never taken off-guard. You are prepared for anything he does.
Mister Putin is a consummate chess player, and since he has returned to office, each time the US has made a move, he has been ready. Each of his moves has not only countered the US, but trumped them. At every step that the US gets tough on Russia, Russia immediately says, in effect, “Okay, remember, you brought this on yourselves.” Russia then makes a move that puts the US in a far worse position than it was before.
The amazing fact here is that the US method recognises neither wéiqí nor chess. They appear to be playing checkers. The US has, since World War II, used the approach of “The Yanks are Comin’.” The US has been the biggest boy in the schoolyard and has, through a combination of bluster and bullying, been able to intimidate the world and, as a result, get virtually everything it wanted for a very long time. Conventional diplomacy has taken a back seat with the US, and, particularly since the administration of George Bush, the US has very much ramped up its “biggest boy in the schoolyard” approach, much to the irritation of the rest of world.
Here Come Those Chickens
But now, the US is broke, and its stature as the biggest boy has begun to wane. The other kids in the schoolyard are playing smart, whilst the US is still playing tough…and it’s no longer working.
Claiming that Russia was overstepping its power in the Ukraine (when, in fact, it was the US that was guilty of this move), the US applied economic sanctions to Russia. The US media treated this as a major blow to Russia, from which the Russkies had better back off if they knew what was good for them.
But, in fact, this served as an open invitation for Russia to retaliate. Since the very first thrust by the US, each parry and thrust by the Russians has been both effective and well planned. (It should be borne in mind that the latest announcement that Russia would not accept US dollars in payment for gas could only be enforced if Russia could get its international gas customers to agree. At the time of announcement, nine out of ten customers had, in fact agreed. These decisions were, unquestionably, not reached overnight. This chess move was planned well in advance.)
When Russia announced that Gazprom, the largest gas supplier in the world, would no longer be accepting US dollars from its clients, the West was shaken by the news.
End of the Petrodollar
So, does this spell the end for the petrodollar? Not just yet. But it does add a nail to the petrodollar coffin, and a rather large nail, at that. It most certainly announces to the world that, if the US continues its schoolyard bully approach, both the Russians and the Chinese are more than ready. They have greater power than the US gave them credit for and, as we are witnessing, are more adept at the game itself.
Time after time, the US announces a flimsy new policy that is half-baked at best, and the US media announce, in effect, “This’ll show ’em!” And yet, at every turn, the Sino-Russian tag-team deals blow after blow to US hegemony in the world.
The US is at war with China and Russia. It’s an undeclared war, and it’s monetary warfare, not military warfare. Yes, there are the military distractions, such as in the Ukraine and the Middle East, but the primary war is being fought monetarily.
If we observe the Asian responses to the US attacks in this war, and assess them objectively, we see that the Asians do not seek to kill off the US. In each battle, they, like skilled bullfighters, deflect the charging bull, then thrust the sword forward, wounding him again and again with every charge.
As this approach is becoming a pattern, it would indicate that the Russians and Chinese, much like a bullfighter, are wearing out the bull and provoking him to lose enough blood that, soon, he will no longer be able to continue the fight.
There will be no H-bomb moment here. No point at which the US, to the entire world’s surprise, suddenly self-destructs. Just as Rome wound down 2000 years ago, we shall observe a similar winding down of the US. (Although there will be many sudden crashes along the way, the entire process will stretch out for years.)
And I believe the US will be kept alive by the victors. It will remain in business as a country and will serve the East, particularly as a consumer of Eastern-produced goods.
But it will cease to be the world’s empire. Much as the British Empire wound down as a result of the world wars, the US will be greatly diminished in power.
More and more, US residents are coming to realise that the “recovery” that is forever being heralded as “just around the corner” will not arrive. No “green shoots,” no “shovel-ready jobs” will materialise. The US are attempting to win a chess game by playing checkers, and they will not succeed. The US’s place in the world will be a casualty of that error, as will be the US economy.
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately there’s little any individual can practically do to change the trajectory of this trend in motion. The best you can and should do is to stay informed so that you can protect yourself in the best way possible, and even profit from the situation.
This is what Doug Casey’s International Man is all about: helping you cut through the smoke and mirrors while making the most of your personal freedom and financial opportunities around the world. The free IM Communiqué is a great place to start.
[(SEE: Russia Delivers First Batch of Su-24 Fighters, Plus Hip and Hind Attack Helicopters To Iraq) Reuters’ claims that Lockheed “Delivered” the first batch of fighters into Iraqi hands, even though the US WILL NOT “ferry” the planes to Iraq before the end of the year…Russia and Belarus have really embarrassed Obama by their timely delivery of vital military equipment to the Iraqi Government, to repel the ISIL invaders.]
“A group of three or four new jets will be ferried to Iraq before the end of the year.”
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(Reuters) – Lockheed Martin Corp this week will deliver the first of 36 F-16 fighter jets to Iraq, marking what Baghdad’s envoy to the United States called a “new chapter” in his country’s ability to defend its vast borders with Iran and other neighbors.
Iraqi Ambassador Lukman Faily will travel to Lockheed’s Fort Worth, Texas, plant on Thursday for a ceremony at which Lockheed and the U.S. government will formally deliver the first F-16 to Iraq.
A group of three or four new jets will be ferried to Iraq before the end of the year.
“Iraq is a large country with over 3,600 km of borders, and we need to protect them,” Faily told Reuters in a telephone interview. “We as a country didn’t have that capability before.”
Iraq has had no real air force since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that eventually toppled Saddam Hussein.
Baghdad has also signed military contracts with Russia and the Czech Republic, among others, and has said it will not be able to fully defend its airspace until 2020.
Iraq also plans to buy Boeing Co Apache helicopters and other weapons from the U.S. government as it assumes responsibility for its own defense and counterterrorism efforts.
Faily said the U.S. government appreciated the urgency and scale of the challenge that Iraqi is facing given continued and mounting strife with insurgents.
“They know that the sooner and the wider capabilities they provide us, the more ability we will have to reduce the vicious cycle of killing where the terrorists are attacking our people,” he said.
Faily said Iraq was completing work on the air base in Balad where the new jets will be housed. He said some Iraqi pilots had already been trained to fly the new planes, and more were in training now.
Iraq ordered a first batch of 18 F-16s in 2011 for $3 billion, followed by a second order of 18 jets in October 2012.
Lockheed is building the F-16s for Iraq under a contract from the Pentagon that also includes mission equipment and a support package provided by Lockheed and other companies.
Lockheed said the Iraqi order would keep the F-16 production line running through late 2017, but it continues to bid for new orders in hopes of continuing production through 2020. The company has built more than 4,540 F-16 aircraft to date.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, editing by G Crosse)
The first ten Russian Sukhoi (Su-24) fighter jets arrived in Iraq on Saturday, the country’s Defense Ministry said. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is hoping the jets will make a key difference in the fight against ISIS.
“The fighter jets landed today in the morning on different military airfields,” MP Abbas al-Bayati told Iraqi media.
The official spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Mohammed al-Askari, also confirmed the information, Al Iraqiya TV channel reported.
The fighter jets will be stationed at an airbase located in the southern part of the country, PressTV reported, citing military sources.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Maliki revealed that Iraq purchased jets from Russia and Belarus in order to help its fight against Sunni militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL).
At the same time, Maliki criticized the US for taking too long to deliver on its own contract after Iraq purchased F-16 jets from America.
On Friday, Iraqi Air Force Commander Hameed al-Maliki confirmed the shipment of MI-35 and MI-28 Russian helicopter fighters to “keep the momentum” in the attacks against ISIS, Ruptly reported.
The commander said that he signed three contracts with the Russians and stressed the importance of the choppers as “excellent anti-terrorism weapons.”
The radical Sunni Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) has taken large parts of the country’s north from the Shia government.
Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers have been killed by insurgents since the Sunni militants began their offensive on June 9, according to Iraqi forces.
The United Nations says more than 1,000 people – mainly civilians – have been killed during the surge thus far.
AMMONNEWS – Demonstrators angry with Jordan’s government have unfurled in this desert city the black battle flags of the al-Qaeda-inspired extremists now in control of large swaths of Iraq, stirring fears that support for the group is growing in Jordan.
At two rallies in Maan this week, scores of young men, some in black masks, raised their fists, waved homemade banners bearing the logo and inscriptions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and shouted, “Down, down with Abdullah,” the king of Jordan. Abdullah II, a close U.S. ally, is widely viewed as a moderate in a country considered an oasis of stability in the Middle East.
The demonstrations have been the first public displays of support for ISIS in Jordan.
Abdullah’s government has put the country’s Border Guard on alert, reinforced troops along its 125-mile frontier with Iraq and added tanks and armor to thwart any move into Jordan by the ISIS militants, who along with Sunni insurgents have seized a string of cities from northern Syria to western Iraq.
But more troubling to the Amman government than the possibility of an ISIS invasion are signs that support for the group may be expanding here and that homegrown recruits could take action in Jordan, according to former military officers, security analysts and members of Jordan’s jihadist movement.
“We no longer trust or respect the government and have been searching for an alternative that ensures our basic rights,” said Mohammed Kreishan, one of the marchers. “In the Islamic State, we have found our alternative.”
On Wednesday, anti-government demonstrators gathered at the mosque in central Maan and marched toward the courthouse with gasoline bombs, but they were deterred by the presence of Jordanian riot police in armored personnel carriers.
A symbol of Jordan’s monarchy and central government, the charred and bullet-riddled courthouse has been the scene of near-nightly gunfire in recent weeks. ISIS banners were briefly raised on the mosque’s roof and still fly from flagpoles at traffic circles.
Maan is an impoverished regional center 150 miles south of Amman, the capital, and a world away from the five-star hotels and Western-style coffee shops of that cosmopolitan city. The official unemployment rate in Maan tops 25 percent and is far higher among its youth. One of the largest employers is a state cement factory.
Maan has been a crucible for anti-government activists for a generation and today is home to leading al-Qaeda clerics, who themselves fear that the younger generation may no longer listen to the Salafist old guard but instead run off and join newer, more extreme groups such as ISIS.
Like most observers, Jordan’s leaders appeared to be taken by surprise by the lightning-quick advance and string of conquests this month by ISIS fighters and Sunni rebels who reached the environs of Baghdad.
Originating in al-Qaeda, patched together by splinter groups fighting in Syria and Sunni insurgents in Iraq, ISIS seeks to establish a Muslim caliphate based on an especially strict interpretation of Islamic law.
Security analysts estimate that about 2,000 Jordanians are fighting in Syria and Iraq today, at least half of them with ISIS.
Reports earlier this month suggested that ISIS forces had taken the key Iraqi-Jordanian border crossing at Turaibil, but Jordanian military officials told reporters this week that Sunni tribes control the area after the Iraqi military left following clashes with ISIS. Border traffic is lighter than normal but flowing, according to eyewitnesses.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry met with Jordan’s foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, in Paris on Thursday to discuss a regional response to the ISIS threat.
“I am worried, but I am not scared” of ISIS’s recent success in Iraq spilling over into Jordan, said Mohammad Farghal, director general of the Center for Strategic Studies at the King Abdullah II Defense Academy and a retired major general in Jordan’s armed forces.
“We are quite confident when it comes to securing the border,” Farghal said. What is worrying, he said, “is that poverty and dissatisfaction create fertile ground for extremist organizations in Jordan. This is our greatest security challenge.”
Mohammed Abu Saleh, a political leader in Maan who helped organize the anti-government rallies, said the populace was being “suffocated” by heavy-handed actions by the security forces. “The only state services we get are riot police,” he said. “The city has been forgotten. There are no jobs, no development, no dignity.”
“For us,” he added, “these are larger issues than unfurling an ISIS banner.”
Abu Saleh said that support for ISIS is born of frustration. “Some people use the threat of ISIS to send a message to the regime,” he said. “We’ve reached the point where the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
According to Mohammed Shalabi, popularly known as Abu Sayyaf, a leader of Jordan’s al-Qaeda-aligned Salafist movement based in Maan, the allure of ISIS is growing, especially among young men looking to participate in jihad.
“We warned those who are aligned with the Islamic State not to go out and rally or to take any action in Jordan, as it is outside their religiously sanctioned mission and would hand a gift to Jordanian authorities trying to depict us as terrorists,” Abu Sayyaf said. “Unfortunately, these are kids who know very little about their own religion, about jihad, and are not willing to answer or listen to anybody.”
Organizers of the rallies say that while ISIS has supporters in Mann, it has no formal structure there.
The two rallies drew only about 100 marchers and it was unclear how many of them were simply shouting against the monarchy. Residents here watched the demonstrations from the sidewalks, displaying more curiosity than support.
ISIS supporters here have not called for military action or direct confrontation with the Jordanian government.
Jordan’s intelligence and security services have in the past allowed jihadist groups and al-Qaeda affiliates to operate within the country’s borders — the better to keep an eye on them and infiltrate their ranks.
Yusuf Mansur, an economic analyst in Amman, said ISIS’s victories in Iraq could increase energy costs in Jordan, which could intensify dissatisfaction with the government. About 10 percent of Jordan’s oil comes from Iraq.
Mansur agreed that cities such as Maan have been neglected and noted that the Jordanian government has the money to spend. “You put $100 million into Maan, and the south will pacified,” he said.
For now, there are some angry people in Maan. On Monday night, Jordanian police burst into the compound of the large Abu Darwish family, seeking to arrest one of the older sons on outstanding charges of drug possession and assault (for which he had received a pardon from the king, they say).
When the police entered, the men grabbed their own guns, and multiple shots were fired. Eight family members were wounded, some seriously, and one son, Aref Abu Darwish, was killed.
The sons say they loathe the government and are looking for justice — and payback. “The king called for this security crackdown because of what is happening in Iraq,” said Zain Abu Darwish, whose cousin has been organizing locals to back ISIS.
“The government is shedding Jordanian blood,” he said. “They are the ones who are creating this situation.”
Official says Obama to seek $2B for border control
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is seeking more than $2 billion to respond to the flood of immigrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and asking for new powers to deal with returning immigrant children apprehended while traveling without their parents.
A White House official said Saturday that Obama plans to make the requests of Congress in a letter to be sent Monday.
The official says that details of the emergency appropriation will come after lawmakers return from their holiday recess on July 7.
The president will ask that the Homeland Security Department be granted the authority to apply “fast track” procedures to the screening and deportation of all immigrant children traveling without their parents.
The official was not authorized to speak by name and discussed the requests on condition of anonymity.
[Having reports on studies in our hands, such as the following, helps us to warn people of the dangers of even participating on any social media. The whole world (at least the English-speaking world) has been under constant bombardment by behavioral control experiments, like this one since the advent of the Internet Age. This is just one tiny experiment on the NET-work. By voluntarily coming onto the Net, we agree to become part of this massive mind-control experiment. We must keep this in mind as we spill our guts to social media, mind-control is the primary reason for allowing civilian access to the Web. Knowing this up-front, before we start to “surf,” we all develop our own methods of self-control in reaction to perceptions of governmental invasion of our most intimate thoughts, whether those perceptions are true or false. We learn not to leave words in our e-trails which might later come back to haunt us; this is what makes the Internet a massive social engine reactor. It is powered by the input. We react to the output. In reacting (by developing our own methods of Internet self-control), we are being subtly controlled or led by that social reactor. Being human, we cannot help but to react to the outrageous information we pick-up on the Net. This study of human reaction and interaction via social media, by tampering with the flow of highly-charged emotional information, measures how much people like you and me reflect what we are exposed to on our own web output.
We live in the age of A.I. (artificial intelligence). It has been let loose upon society, in order to control that society. Big Brother has the keys to your minds, and you handed them to him.]
Edited by Susan T. Fiske, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and approved March 25, 2014 (received for review October 23, 2013)
We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.
Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. Emotional contagion is well established in laboratory experiments, with people transferring positive and negative emotions to others. Data from a large real-world social network, collected over a 20-y period suggests that longer-lasting moods (e.g., depression, happiness) can be transferred through networks [Fowler JH, Christakis NA (2008) BMJ 337:a2338], although the results are controversial. In an experiment with people who use Facebook, we test whether emotional contagion occurs outside of in-person interaction between individuals by reducing the amount of emotional content in the News Feed. When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks. This work also suggests that, in contrast to prevailing assumptions, in-person interaction and nonverbal cues are not strictly necessary for emotional contagion, and that the observation of others’ positive experiences constitutes a positive experience for people.
Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading them to experience the same emotions as those around them. Emotional contagion is well established in laboratory experiments (1), in which people transfer positive and negative moods and emotions to others. Similarly, data from a large, real-world social network collected over a 20-y period suggests that longer-lasting moods (e.g., depression, happiness) can be transferred through networks as well (2, 3).
The interpretation of this network effect as contagion of mood has come under scrutiny due to the study’s correlational nature, including concerns over misspecification of contextual variables or failure to account for shared experiences (4, 5), raising important questions regarding contagion processes in networks. An experimental approach can address this scrutiny directly; however, methods used in controlled experiments have been criticized for examining emotions after social interactions. Interacting with a happy person is pleasant (and an unhappy person, unpleasant). As such, contagion may result from experiencing an interaction rather than exposure to a partner’s emotion. Prior studies have also failed to address whether nonverbal cues are necessary for contagion to occur, or if verbal cues alone suffice. Evidence that positive and negative moods are correlated in networks (2, 3) suggests that this is possible, but the causal question of whether contagion processes occur for emotions in massive social networks remains elusive in the absence of experimental evidence. Further, others have suggested that in online social networks, exposure to the happiness of others may actually be depressing to us, producing an “alone together” social comparison effect (6).
Three studies have laid the groundwork for testing these processes via Facebook, the largest online social network. This research demonstrated that (i) emotional contagion occurs via text-based computer-mediated communication (7); (ii) contagion of psychological and physiological qualities has been suggested based on correlational data for social networks generally (7, 8); and (iii) people’s emotional expressions on Facebook predict friends’ emotional expressions, even days later (7) (although some shared experiences may in fact last several days). To date, however, there is no experimental evidence that emotions or moods are contagious in the absence of direct interaction between experiencer and target.
On Facebook, people frequently express emotions, which are later seen by their friends via Facebook’s “News Feed” product (8). Because people’s friends frequently produce much more content than one person can view, the News Feed filters posts, stories, and activities undertaken by friends. News Feed is the primary manner by which people see content that friends share. Which content is shown or omitted in the News Feed is determined via a ranking algorithm that Facebook continually develops and tests in the interest of showing viewers the content they will find most relevant and engaging. One such test is reported in this study: A test of whether posts with emotional content are more engaging.
The experiment manipulated the extent to which people (N = 689,003) were exposed to emotional expressions in their News Feed. This tested whether exposure to emotions led people to change their own posting behaviors, in particular whether exposure to emotional content led people to post content that was consistent with the exposure—thereby testing whether exposure to verbal affective expressions leads to similar verbal expressions, a form of emotional contagion. People who viewed Facebook in English were qualified for selection into the experiment. Two parallel experiments were conducted for positive and negative emotion: One in which exposure to friends’ positive emotional content in their News Feed was reduced, and one in which exposure to negative emotional content in their News Feed was reduced. In these conditions, when a person loaded their News Feed, posts that contained emotional content of the relevant emotional valence, each emotional post had between a 10% and 90% chance (based on their User ID) of being omitted from their News Feed for that specific viewing. It is important to note that this content was always available by viewing a friend’s content directly by going to that friend’s “wall” or “timeline,” rather than via the News Feed. Further, the omitted content may have appeared on prior or subsequent views of the News Feed. Finally, the experiment did not affect any direct messages sent from one user to another.
Posts were determined to be positive or negative if they contained at least one positive or negative word, as defined by Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software (LIWC2007) (9) word counting system, which correlates with self-reported and physiological measures of well-being, and has been used in prior research on emotional expression (7, 8, 10). LIWC was adapted to run on the Hadoop Map/Reduce system (11) and in the News Feed filtering system, such that no text was seen by the researchers. As such, it was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research. Both experiments had a control condition, in which a similar proportion of posts in their News Feed were omitted entirely at random (i.e., without respect to emotional content). Separate control conditions were necessary as 22.4% of posts contained negative words, whereas 46.8% of posts contained positive words. So for a person for whom 10% of posts containing positive content were omitted, an appropriate control would withhold 10% of 46.8% (i.e., 4.68%) of posts at random, compared with omitting only 2.24% of the News Feed in the negativity-reduced control.
The experiments took place for 1 wk (January 11–18, 2012). Participants were randomly selected based on their User ID, resulting in a total of ∼155,000 participants per condition who posted at least one status update during the experimental period.
For each experiment, two dependent variables were examined pertaining to emotionality expressed in people’s own status updates: the percentage of all words produced by a given person that was either positive or negative during the experimental period (as in ref. 7). In total, over 3 million posts were analyzed, containing over 122 million words, 4 million of which were positive (3.6%) and 1.8 million negative (1.6%).
If affective states are contagious via verbal expressions on Facebook (our operationalization of emotional contagion), people in the positivity-reduced condition should be less positive compared with their control, and people in the negativity-reduced condition should be less negative. As a secondary measure, we tested for cross-emotional contagion in which the opposite emotion should be inversely affected: People in the positivity-reduced condition should express increased negativity, whereas people in the negativity-reduced condition should express increased positivity. Emotional expression was modeled, on a per-person basis, as the percentage of words produced by that person during the experimental period that were either positive or negative. Positivity and negativity were evaluated separately given evidence that they are not simply opposite ends of the same spectrum (8, 10). Indeed, negative and positive word use scarcely correlated [r = −0.04, t(620,587) = −38.01, P < 0.001].
We examined these data by comparing each emotion condition to its control. After establishing that our experimental groups did not differ in emotional expression during the week before the experiment (all t < 1.5; all P > 0.13), we examined overall posting rate via a Poisson regression, using the percent of posts omitted as a regression weight. Omitting emotional content reduced the amount of words the person subsequently produced, both when positivity was reduced (z = −4.78, P < 0.001) and when negativity was reduced (z = −7.219, P < 0.001). This effect occurred both when negative words were omitted (99.7% as many words were produced) and when positive words were omitted (96.7%). An interaction was also observed, showing that the effect was stronger when positive words were omitted (z = −77.9, P < 0.001).
As such, direct examination of the frequency of positive and negative words would be inappropriate: It would be confounded with the change in overall words produced. To test our hypothesis regarding emotional contagion, we conducted weighted linear regressions, predicting the percentage of words that were positive or negative from a dummy code for condition (experimental versus control), weighted by the likelihood of that person having an emotional post omitted from their News Feed on a given viewing, such that people who had more content omitted were given higher weight in the regression. When positive posts were reduced in the News Feed, the percentage of positive words in people’s status updates decreased by B = −0.1% compared with control [t(310,044) = −5.63, P < 0.001, Cohen’s d = 0.02], whereas the percentage of words that were negative increased by B = 0.04% (t = 2.71, P = 0.007, d = 0.001). Conversely, when negative posts were reduced, the percent of words that were negative decreased by B = −0.07% [t(310,541) = −5.51, P < 0.001, d = 0.02] and the percentage of words that were positive, conversely, increased by B = 0.06% (t = 2.19, P < 0.003, d = 0.008).
The results show emotional contagion. As Fig. 1 illustrates, for people who had positive content reduced in their News Feed, a larger percentage of words in people’s status updates were negative and a smaller percentage were positive. When negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results suggest that the emotions expressed by friends, via online social networks, influence our own moods, constituting, to our knowledge, the first experimental evidence for massive-scale emotional contagion via social networks (3, 7, 8), and providing support for previously contested claims that emotions spread via contagion through a network.
These results highlight several features of emotional contagion. First, because News Feed content is not “directed” toward anyone, contagion could not be just the result of some specific interaction with a happy or sad partner. Although prior research examined whether an emotion can be contracted via a direct interaction (1, 7), we show that simply failing to “overhear” a friend’s emotional expression via Facebook is enough to buffer one from its effects. Second, although nonverbal behavior is well established as one medium for contagion, these data suggest that contagion does not require nonverbal behavior (7, 8): Textual content alone appears to be a sufficient channel. This is not a simple case of mimicry, either; the cross-emotional encouragement effect (e.g., reducing negative posts led to an increase in positive posts) cannot be explained by mimicry alone, although mimicry may well have been part of the emotion-consistent effect. Further, we note the similarity of effect sizes when positivity and negativity were reduced. This absence of negativity bias suggests that our results cannot be attributed solely to the content of the post: If a person is sharing good news or bad news (thus explaining his/her emotional state), friends’ response to the news (independent of the sharer’s emotional state) should be stronger when bad news is shown rather than good (or as commonly noted, “if it bleeds, it leads;” ref. 12) if the results were being driven by reactions to news. In contrast, a response to a friend’s emotion expression (rather than news) should be proportional to exposure. A post hoc test comparing effect sizes (comparing correlation coefficients using Fisher’s method) showed no difference despite our large sample size (z = −0.36, P = 0.72).
We also observed a withdrawal effect: People who were exposed to fewer emotional posts (of either valence) in their News Feed were less expressive overall on the following days, addressing the question about how emotional expression affects social engagement online. This observation, and the fact that people were more emotionally positive in response to positive emotion updates from their friends, stands in contrast to theories that suggest viewing positive posts by friends on Facebook may somehow affect us negatively, for example, via social comparison (6, 13). In fact, this is the result when people are exposed to less positive content, rather than more. This effect also showed no negativity bias in post hoc tests (z = −0.09, P = 0.93).
Although these data provide, to our knowledge, some of the first experimental evidence to support the controversial claims that emotions can spread throughout a network, the effect sizes from the manipulations are small (as small as d = 0.001). These effects nonetheless matter given that the manipulation of the independent variable (presence of emotion in the News Feed) was minimal whereas the dependent variable (people’s emotional expressions) is difficult to influence given the range of daily experiences that influence mood (10). More importantly, given the massive scale of social networks such as Facebook, even small effects can have large aggregated consequences (14, 15): For example, the well-documented connection between emotions and physical well-being suggests the importance of these findings for public health. Online messages influence our experience of emotions, which may affect a variety of offline behaviors. And after all, an effect size of d = 0.001 at Facebook’s scale is not negligible: In early 2013, this would have corresponded to hundreds of thousands of emotion expressions in status updates per day.
We thank the Facebook News Feed team, especially Daniel Schafer, for encouragement and support; the Facebook Core Data Science team, especially Cameron Marlow, Moira Burke, and Eytan Bakshy; plus Michael Macy and Mathew Aldridge for their feedback. Data processing systems, per-user aggregates, and anonymized results available upon request.
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Author contributions: A.D.I.K., J.E.G., and J.T.H. designed research; A.D.I.K. performed research; A.D.I.K. analyzed data; and A.D.I.K., J.E.G., and J.T.H. wrote the paper.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.
Freely available online through the PNAS open access option.