3.74 degrees of separation for Facebook users

Ken Hong November 23, 2011 0
3.74 degrees of separation for Facebook users

Recent study done by Facebook data team has brought new buzz to the concept of six degrees of separation. Six degree of separation is the idea that every two people in the world are connected somehow by 6 intermediate connections or less. So what does that mean? For instance, you as variable (A) and a friend (C) of your friend (B) would mean 2 hops between you and your friend’s friend. If that sounds too confusing then think about A-B-C, the two dashes to get from A to C is 2 hops and the common friend B accounts for 1 degree of separation. To get the degree of separation, just subtract 1 from the number of hops.

As more and more users join Facebook, the world gets smaller in a sense since more people are now connected through somebody. The average distance/hops between 2 strangers in 2008 was 5.28, now its 4.74. The Facebook data team collaborated with University of Milan, analyzed 721 million active users with 69 billion friendship among them, which accounts for more than 10% of the global population. Using state-of-the-art algorithm developed by the university’s Lab for Web Algorithms, the study was able to show the estimation of distance between any pair of individuals.

The ultimate result showed 99.6% of all pairs of users are connected by 6 hops (5 degrees) and 92% connected by 5 hops (4 degrees). On average, it only takes 4.74 hops (3.74 degrees) to connect people.

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