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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.

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"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." (Read more social media stories.)

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