Facebook cuts six degrees of separation to four
Since the American social psychologist, Stanley Milgram, conducted his famous ‘small world experiment’ in the 1960s, it has been commonly accepted that most people have six degrees of separation between them.
However, a vast new study by Facebook’s data team and the University of Milan, which assessed the relationships between 721 million active users (more than 10 per cent of the global population) of the social network, has found that the average number of connections between people has dropped to four.
The huge piece of research, which took a month to conduct and analysed 69 billion connections across the site, found that any two people on Facebook are on average separated by 4.74 intermediate connections.
“Using state-of-the-art algorithms…we were able to approximate the number of ‘hops’ [degrees of separation] between all pairs of individuals on Facebook.
“We found that six degrees actually overstates the number of links between typical pairs of users: While 99.6% of all pairs of users are connected by paths with 5 degrees (6 hops), 92% are connected by only four degrees (5 hops),” the Facebook Data team said. more