The World Is Four Degrees Of Separation Apart

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The degrees of separation between any one of Facebook’s 800 million users is close to 4, on average—much less than the “six degrees of separation” notion people throw around.

Within the same country, the degrees of separation between any two users declines to nearly 3.

“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 data comes from a new study of Facebook’s “social graph” undertaken by Facebook in collaboration with Università degli Studi di Milano.

The results were published last night in a blog post called “The Anatomy Of Facebook.” It’s the largest scale social network study ever conducted.

What might be most amazing is that the distance between two people in the world is shrinking rapidly because of social networking. In 2008 the average distance was 5.28 “hops” between any two people on Facebook, while now it is only 4.74 “hops” (which is around 4 “degrees”).

Looking back, Facebook only had between 100-150 million users in 2008. While Facebook’s user base encompasses only a specific portion of the the world’s people, 800 million is still a pretty big sample population.

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