Six degrees of separation have been drastically cut by Facebook
Nov 23, 2011, 0:50 GMT
San Francisco - A new study that encompassed 721 million active users of Facebook has found that there are only 3.74 degrees of separation between people - at least if they use the world's most popular social network.
The study, released Tuesday, was the deepest examination to date of a theory first posited in 1929 by Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy in 1929, and then corroborated in a 1967 study in which 296 volunteers were asked to send a message by postcard, through friends and then friends of friends, to a specific person in a Boston suburb.
The new study was conducted by Facebook data scientists who used special algorithms to analyze the pathways that connect the sites 721 million active users, who at this point represent approximately 10 per cent of the world's population and had about 69 billion friendships among them.
The results, posted on Facebook's site, found that the average number of links from one arbitrarily selected person to another was 4.74. In the United States, where more than half of people over 13 are on Facebook, it was just 4.37.
'When considering even the most distant Facebook user in the Siberian tundra or the Peruvian rainforest, a friend of your friend probably knows a friend of their friend,' the Facebook data team said in its blog posting. 'When we limit our analysis to a single country, be it the US, Sweden, Italy, or any other, we find that the world gets even smaller, and most pairs of people are only separated by 3 degrees.'