Facebook has decreased “Six degrees of Separation” to Four

Six degrees of separation model

Six degrees of separation model

Previously, Facebook brought people close from different parts of the world. Now in a new study, it has been find that it has brought people from different parts of the world closer to each other with 4.74 degrees of separation.

In 1960, American social psychologist, Stanley Milgram, conducted a “small world experiment” and found that most of the people have six degrees of freedom.

From Facebook,

The idea was first put to the test by Stanley Milgram in the 1960’s. Milgram selected 296 volunteers and asked them to dispatch a message to a specific individual, a stockholder living in the Boston suburb of Sharon, Massachusetts. The volunteers were told that they couldn’t send the message directly to the target person (unless the sender knew them personally), but that they should route the message to a personal acquaintance that was more likely than the sender to know the target person. Milgram found that the average number of intermediate persons in these chains was 5.2 (representing about 6 hops). The experiment showed that not only are there few degrees of separation between any two people, but that individuals can successfully navigate these short paths, even though they have no way of seeing the entire network.

Degrees of separation on FacebookNow, a team of researchers from data team of Facebook and University of Milan have found that the average number of connections among different people has dropped to four. They made their assessments on the relationships of 721 million active users of the social network – with more than 800 million members from around the world. The study took a month to be done and about 69 billion connections across the network of the site have been analyzed and, finally, researchers concluded that any two people on Facebook are separated by 4.74 intermediate connections, on average. Degrees of separation is represented by “hops”.  In 2008, the distance between people was 5.28 degrees.

You may understand degree of separation by supposing that if one person lives in the rainforests of Amazon and the other living in a small village in Pakistan. They are not separated by more than 5 friends i.e. one must be a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of the other and not more than this.

Further reading:

J. Ugander, B. Karrer, L. Backstrom, C. Marlow.

The Anatomy of the Facebook Social Graph,

http://arxiv.org/abs/1111.4503

L. Backstrom, P. Boldi, M. Rosa, J. Ugander, S. Vigna.

Four Degrees of Separation,

http://arxiv.org/abs/1111.4570