Are you a Facebook user? According to a study by the social network and the University of Milan, the old six degrees of separation theory doesn't always apply to you anymore. Only three people instead of five separate you and anyone else with a Facebook account, bringing six degrees down to four. And if the person on the other end of the connection is from the same country, the number of people in the chain is reduced by one more. Until now, the theory has withstood the test of time since it was published in 1967 by psychologist Stanley Milgram.
We all know Facebook makes the world a smaller place, but we never really knew the full extent of its effect among users until now. Unlike its similar project with Yahoo called the Small World Experiment, this study examined all 721 million active accounts without users having to opt in to participate. It took a month for the researchers to come up with these results using algorithms developed at the University of Milan.
If these numbers don't sound impressive on paper, maybe they'll sound more remarkable in a real world example: "[W]hen 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," the Facebook Data Team writes on the website. In a few years, the degrees of separation may shrink even smaller as more and more people join the social networking site.
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