Facebook Makes World Smaller 6 Degrees

November 22, 2011 by staff 

Facebook Makes World Smaller 6 Degrees, A theory stemming from an experiment by social psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s claims every living person is connected to any other through only six friends. According to a recent study, Facebook reduces the six degrees of separation to only four, meaning the world’s largest social network makes the world even smaller (figuratively).

The study, a joint effort by Facebook and Università degli Studi di Milano, shows that the number of “hops” separating any two persons on Facebook is in fact smaller than six. According to the study, “99.6% of all pairs of users are connected by paths with 5 degrees (6 hops), 92% are connected by only four degrees (5 hops),” with the average “distance” between users getting smaller over time.

In popular culture, the best known implementation of the “six degrees of separation” theory is the Kevin Bacon game, which requires you to connect a Hollywood actor to Kevin Bacon, with actors being connected if they’ve been in a movie together. The higher the number of “hops” between an actor and Kevin Bacon, the higher that actor’s “Kevin Bacon Number” is.

The game can be tested at the Oracle of Bacon, a web application that uses information from the Internet Movie Database to calculate the number of links between an actor and Kevin Bacon. The site says that Kevin Bacon Numbers over 4 are very rare, with the average number being 2.981. It could be a coincidence, but Facebook’s latest findings show that the Kevin Bacon game provides quite an accurate representation of relationships in a social network.

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