6 Degrees of Separation? It's Really 3.57
We're all just 'a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2016 9:01 AM CST
"The world is more closely connected than you might think," says Facebook.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
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(Newser) – Ever since the theory of six degrees of separation was unveiled in 1929, people have been under the impression that they're connected to any other person through just six acquaintances. In honor of Facebook's 12th birthday and its self-invented Friends Day, the social network has updated the figure: "Each person in the world (at least among the 1.59 billion people active on Facebook) is connected to every other person by an average of three and a half other people," Facebook's research team writes in a blog post. The global average is 3.57, though Facebook's heavy number of US users drops the American average to 3.46 degrees. What does that mean? Basically, you can now brag that Barack Obama is something like a friend of a friend of a friend of a partial-friend, per VentureBeat.

Facebook came up with the number using complex statistical algorithms, but it explains the process fairly simply like this: "Imagine a person with 100 friends. If each of his friends also has 100 friends, then the number of friends-of-friends will be 10,000." That's one degree. "If each of those friends-of-friends also has 100 friends, then the number of friends-of-friends-of-friends will be 1,000,000." That's two degrees. And so on. Facebook actually did a similar study back in 2011 and found its 721 million users were separated by 3.74 degrees. In 2008, it was 4.28 degrees, reports the Telegraph, meaning our degrees of separation are only shrinking as the site's user base grows. Facebook crunches your own specific number here. (Most Facebook users have just four close friends.)