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

(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."

4.74 degrees of Kevin Bacon?
4.74 degrees of Kevin Bacon?   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Actors Kyra Sedgwick (L) and Kevin Bacon attend the AMC After Party for the 62nd Annual EMMY Awards at Soho House on August 29, 2010 in West Hollywood, California.
Actors Kyra Sedgwick (L) and Kevin Bacon attend the AMC After Party for the 62nd Annual EMMY Awards at Soho House on August 29, 2010 in West Hollywood, California.   (Getty Images)
In this 1984 file photo originally released by Paramount Pictures, Kevin Bacon is shown in a scene from the movie Footloose.
In this 1984 file photo originally released by Paramount Pictures, Kevin Bacon is shown in a scene from the movie "Footloose."   (AP Photo/ Paramount Pictures)
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