6 Degrees of Separation Down to 4.74
Most Facebook users fewer than 5 friends apart
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2011 5:44 AM CST
Updated Nov 27, 2011 7:00 PM CST
4.74 degrees of Kevin Bacon?   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

(Newser) – The oft-cited "six degrees of separation" between individuals has—at least for the 721 million users of Facebook—narrowed to 4.74, researchers say. That's the average number of acquaintances that separate any two random Facebook acquaintances, according to a study that used algorithms to analyze the links between users, the New York Times reports. The study, which involved scientists from Facebook and the University of Milan, found that within a country, that number shrank to just three degrees apart.

"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," Facebook's official blog says. But some links are a lot stronger than others, notes a computer science professor who advised the researchers. "We are close, in a sense, to people who don’t necessarily like us, sympathize with us, or have anything in common with us,” he says. “It’s the weak ties that make the world small."

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Showing 3 of 6 comments
schopenhauer
Nov 27, 2011 11:49 PM CST
Hindus would argue that there is really no separation and we are all connected. When our technology advances enough to observe the universe better, we may find that they were right.
Mad
Nov 27, 2011 10:44 PM CST
My Ma says our family is related to Lincoln. There. Now, cause you know me, you all are only 3 degrees separated from the last honorable republican. You're welcome!
JoeQ
Nov 22, 2011 10:37 AM CST
It's not surprising when the average number of friends is 130 and the maximum number is 5000, just math: (average number of friends) raised to the power of (degree of separation) equals (number of facebook users), approximately. 130 raised to the 4.2 power is about 721 million. If everybody had 5000 friends the degree of separation would be about 2.4. If everybody had 30 friends the degree of separation would be about 6.